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 repped by the fabulous Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. 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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