I Don’t Write For Myself

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I was reading Chuck Wendig’s post 25 Lies Writers Tell (And Start To Believe) and number 9 really hit home for me.

9. “I Write Only For Me!”

Then don’t write. Sorry to be a hard-ass (ha ha, of course I’m not), but writing is an act of communicating. It’s an argument. It’s a conversation. (And yes, it’s entertainment.) And that necessitates at least one other person on the other end of this metaphorical phone call. You want to do something for yourself, eat a cheeseburger, buy an air conditioner, take a nap. Telling stories is an act we perform for others.

I’ve never written for myself. I write because I want other people to read my stories. I write because I want to share my brain dumpings with others. If I knew with an absolute 100% certainty that I would never be published, never have an audience for my work, I would walk away from it all. I would gather up all of my stories and burn them. I would permanently delete all of my writing folders.

Why? Because writing is hard work. Putting together a coherent, engaging story takes time, talent, and skill. And I’m too lazy to put that amount of physical work into something that only I will ever love.

If I want to tell stories to myself, I tell them to myself in my own head. That way I don’t have to worry about pacing, or dialogue, or continuity. I don’t have to be coherent in my own brain. I don’t have to fret over telling too much instead of showing. And better still, I can actually ENVISION the story instead of having to rely on words which don’t always do a scene justice.

I was just saying to a writer friend that I love to write. I love the rush of a good writing sprint. I love seeing my characters come to life on the page. But I can walk away from it all without going crazy.

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About Ana Ramsey

Ana Ramsey* is a crazy cat lady-cum-author. When she's not wrangling her three rebel cats or working in the garden, she can usually be found lurking on Twitter (@anaquana) or gallivanting around the world from the comfort of her chair. *Name changed to protect the guilty

4 responses »

  1. I envy you. :D

    I write because I want to share this craziness in my head with everyone else. But I also would keep writing even if I knew I’d never get published because I’m pretty sure my brain would implode if I didn’t.

    K

      • I would be impossible to live with if I didn’t write. I’m pretty bad as is. :)

        Unless I had some other creative passion, like painting, and didn’t produce canvases that look like the mad splattering of a toddler. Then maybe I could quit.

        Since I don’t see that happening, I might as well keep writing!

  2. I know exactly where you are coming from. I write for myself, but I also write for an audience bigger than myself. I write with the goal of publication constantly in mind. My writing has to serve both purposes — which makes my job infinitely harder, hah.

    If I knew I’d never be published, I would be heartbroken — and spend the next several weeks/years writing about it. Writing is as much a part of me as breathing, and even though I want/need to share my stories, I will always need to write for the sake of my sanity, published or not.

    P.S. I love Chuck Wendig’s lists. Absolutely brilliant.

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