Short one today, readers. Mostly because I’m writing this between conference sessions on a Saturday, as I’ve got work shifts Monday and Tuesday, among other things, and so it’s literally a case of “Blitz this while I can!”
Right, that in mind, let’s dive right in. Today, I don’t want to talk about writing big, drawn-out epics, or short stories, or chapters, or anything that you know you will be publishing. Today, I want to write about something different. Something with another goal in mind.
I want to talk about writing for yourself.
This topic stems from a recent conversation with a friend of mine that jogged my memory to many similar conversations with other individuals, as well as a Patreon supporter post that touched on the idea as well. To save time and sum things up, I’ll just say it outright: There are a lot of people who start a writing project, wanting to tell a story, and then just kind of taper off. Always thinking about it, but never going back to it because it wasn’t that great, or it wasn’t at a level where they’d show it to anyone, and they felt either self-conscious or embarrassed by the idea of finishing it and putting it out there.
Well, I want to tell you a secret: You don’t have to show it to anyone. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t finish it.
See, there’s a value in finishing a project of your own, a sense of accomplishment similar to when you finish any other project in your life. And just because you never show what you’ve written to anyone else or have no desire to doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing, because you get to see it. You’ll know. And you can look back on what you wrote, even if you see the flaws for what they are, and take pride in the accomplishment.
So you’re not planning on selling, or sharing, or don’t even want to? To that I say “So what?” There’s nothing wrong with this. I enjoy biking, especially on the side of a mountain. This doesn’t mean I want to turn into some pro-downhill biker, with a quarter of my bones itching for metal reinforcement from frequent injury (I exaggerate, but still). Because biking is my hobby. Some people go fishing for their hobby. Others bake. It doesn’t mean that the person who enjoys fly-fishing on the weekends needs to be aiming to land a record-breaking fish for prize money, or that the baker needs to immediately apply for a job at a bakery. Hobbies are for our enjoyment, for our personal benefit, not the benefit of those around you. There’s nothing wrong with sitting down and writing your own little story that you never intend for anyone else to see.
And you know what? That takes a lot of the pressure off, too. When you’re writing to sell and be a professional. there’s a ton of work you have to do with every single part of your work to ready it for the public. It’s like building a car from scratch. There are deadlines, waiting fans, constant pressures …
But just because professional writers have all those doesn’t mean that your hobby should. In fact, it shouldn’t. Writing on your own, for the audience of you, is more straightforward. You’re telling yourself a story, not anyone else. There’s no need to worry about a cover, about deadlines, about satisfying anyone else other than yourself. Which is, in a way, liberating. Your story doesn’t need to follow the checklists of conventional literature, such as “motive” or “protagonists” or even proper perspective if you don’t want it too. Because you’re the only reader you need to worry about. Would this story be cooler with giant centaur mechs? Or a sudden love triangle? Guess what? It’s your story, for you and you alone. Do what you want. Write for fun!
Now, later obviously, if you decide you want to polish it up and try to sell it, know that you will need to polish and polish, and that what was fun will now become work. If that sounds unappealing to you … then don’t do it! Simple as that. It’s okay to be a hobbyist writer.
And on that note, while we’re at it, I have one other thing to add to this. Sometimes I talk to people about writing, and they mention that they were writing for fun, but it became too hard/wasn’t fun/wasn’t working out/etc, and so they stopped. Then they give me a guilty look, and usually say something along the lines of “I guess I should get back to that.”
What? No? Look, if you’re writing as a hobby, but it isn’t as fulfilling as your other hobbies, then don’t feel that you have to go back to it simply because others are passionate about it. Here’s a list of some of the hobbies I’m not super into but have tried or done for a short time at one point or another: Parkour, fishing, hunting, most basic sports, painting (I tried hard at this one, but I suck) … and there are even others that I’ve forgotten about.
Yes, forgotten. Point is, I tried those hobbies, but I didn’t get as much enjoyment out of them for my time (in some cases, none at all) as I’d hoped. And with only so much time to spend in a day relaxing and doing something I enjoyed that fit my criteria … I axed them. And I feel no guilt for it.
Nor should you feel guilt if your writing attempts don’t come out the way you want. Believe me, I respect painting. I like looking at what others have created. But I acknowledge that I can’t paint worth anything, and that it’s not a hobby I get much from, save smelling of oil-based paints. So I dumped it in favor of hobbies that, even if I’m not the best at them (like dancing) I still enjoy doing!
So you tried writing and found yourself not enjoying it in the slightest? That’s fine. You can stop. Don’t feel like you have to keep going just because others did. It’s your hobby. You should enjoy it and get something you like out of it. If you’re finding that even after all that time, you’re needing breaks to relax from your relaxation … don’t feel bad about dropping it! You’re looking for something you like doing.
That’s it. That’s all I have to say for today’s short topic. If you’re writing for you … don’t worry about everyone else. Your story is for you and you alone. Have fun with it. Feel free to jump genres or kick convention to the curb. It’s for you, and no one else. Write it for you, feel accomplished for you, and be happy. Be proud of what you accomplished for yourself.
Good luck. Now, hobbyist, aspiring professional, or pro, let’s all go get writing.
Speaking of which, I write for the public! Support on Patreon to help it along!