Are you really writing for yourself?

You know how I said yesterday that Twitter was quiet? Well, I take that back. Twitter decided to engage me in a conversation today about writing (no one answers questions unless it has to do with writing because writers like Twitter because it distracts them from writing. Seriously, I hear that all the time.)

So, without posting a link to the article because A. I don’t want to start any kind of bullying discussions toward the writer and B. I honestly don’t know the link because I randomly saw it this morning on old Twitter feed from yesterday, I’ll explain the post I read.

A self published author was saying that all the writing, editing, promoting, marketing, etc. was really not worth it. (She was also asking if other writers felt that same kind of concerns.) She was saying that it won’t give us recognition or money, and we should just do it for ourselves. She had written, say ten books, and she was wondering if it was really worth it.

It was meant to be motivational, but it really didn’t come across that way at all.

Granted, I don’t think the writer wasn’t saying that writing wasn’t worth it, she was saying if the effort put into the publishing was worth it. I mentioned this on Twitter, and found myself in conversation. Tons of writers started replying with, “You have to just write for yourself.”

But is that always true?

If you didn’t think anyone would ever read and/or care about your stories and it was all a bunch of wasted effort, would you still do it? I’m not talking about how we discovered writing as kids and wanted to make up our own stories, I mean now. Now as we’re adults with life decisions and time management to consider. I would just keep a journal like I did as a kid if I didn’t think I would have even a small readership.

We have these millions of writers on Twitter for a reason. We want to let people know who we are (as the writing tips tell us) so we can get the word out about our work.

Of course it is. Personally, having a completed book, self-published or traditional is worth the time because it’s a connection to the outside world. We want to share a part of ourselves because that’s just part of human nature.

Granted, writing is the thing we do, not because it’s “fun” but because it is what it is. It’s our thing. It’s what we know we’re supposed to be doing. But doing something just for yourself, without any hope of anyone else knowing or caring. I just don’t think that’s 100% true for writers.

With self publishing, we know we can have something out there. The “fun” in that is the satisfaction of a finished product. Yes, the marketing and the business aspect is irritating, but we’re willing to do it so we’re read and recognized. We want to do it for ourselves in a self-gratifying way. We want someone to acknowledge our existence. I don’t think any of the millions of indie writers on Twitter talks about writing unless they want some kind of recognition and kudos. And that’s 100% perfectly okay.

Favorite quotes on the subject:

“When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended for self-flagellation solely…Writing stopped being fun when I discovered the difference between good writing and bad and, even more terrifying, the difference between it and true art. And after that, the whip came down.” ~ Truman Capote

“There is only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that second-best is anything but the second-best.” ~ Doris Lessing

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your dreams. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great.” ~ Mark Twain

“We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.” ~  Marianne Williamson

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” ~ Gloria Steinem

Anyway, at least Twitter entertained me today. I had some good writers with nice books get into the conversation, which is a rarity. 98% of the time, I get responses from the same people who are pretty like minded, so it’s interesting to see Twitter isn’t completely dead.


About Suzanne Schultz Pick

Married to Steve. Mother of Jack. Librarian IT Assistant. Writer, teacher, blogger, podcaster, technological princess.
This entry was posted in All About Me, Books, Publishing, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Are you really writing for yourself?

  1. Viv says:

    I think it’s important that we don’t chase markets, because by the time you’ve produced a book to fill a niche in the market, everything has already moved on.
    I’m not sure what I’d write now if I were to write solely for myself. I suspect that boat has long sailed but I do wonder if some of what I am working on at present will actually go down well with the readers who’ve liked other novels.
    A thorny issue.

    • All good points. I agree that we are entertaining ourselves to a point, but I still think we have that desire to have readers like what we’re doing. Musicians who come out with experimental albums must feel the same pressure.

  2. I think lots of writers start by writing for themselves, but you can’t stay there anymore than you can live for yourself. You have to sacrifice, serve and help others.

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