Psyche Yourself to Write
or Not to Write
As writers, you and I need a daily procedure to turn out work — words on paper or computer screen. Some even write words on the sand. The point is to produce written work. Good or bad, polished or a mess, at the beginning stage all writing is a process of production.
When you’re writing you don’t know for sure if it’s good or bad. In fact, you’ll most likely think it stinks. Don’t let that stop you from continuing to put thoughts into words or words into thoughts, however your mind works. The point is to get those words down on some kind of retrieval device, which, by the way, includes paper. The editing and polishing come later.
Your reason to write may be different from mine. It’s unique to you. Here are some possible reasons to write:
To express yourself
To change the world
To bare your soul
To change people’s minds
To create a world of your own
To see your words in print
To portray the ideal
To win praise and admiration
To piss off your enemies
To cause a revolution
To widen your reach
To change the political system
To convince people about something
To tell a story
To win friends and influence people
To express the vision in your mind
To write for the hell of it
To feed yourself
To feed your soul
To make money
To live forever (since your words can live forever)
We could go on and on. You may have a different motivation. Here’s a hint: Find the motivation that is unique to you and your need to express something in print. If it’s primarily to impress other people or gain their adulation, I believe it’s not a good enough motivation. (Although, I find myself doing it many times.) Why? Because it relies on other people’s approval and not your own. You’ve placed other individuals in the driver’s seat of your writing. Yes, you need readers. But they are not the writer. You are.
Ayn Rand, in her great novel, The Fountainhead, wrote about the contrast between doing things for your innermost, purposeful reasons, and, by way of contrast, doing things to please others. She called it a “first-handed approach” versus a “second-handed approach” to life. You want the first, not the second. Why? Because a second-hand approach is essentially selling your soul for short-lived and fickle adulation.
Look at the above list of reasons and see what appeals to you. One more thing: some very successful writers have cautioned aspiring writers NOT to write for money. It’s true that many writers do not make much money, if any, from their writing. Yet, the same writers who gave that advice wrote for their internal need to write, AND for the money. Once money wasn’t an issue anymore, they could blissfully advise against writing for money. I consider writing to make money an honorable reason if one doesn’t try to make money by selling one’s writing soul to the lowest common denominator.
Why NOT to Write
There are plenty of reasons not to write. Here are just some:
Just don’t feel like it
Don’t want to
Afraid of making mistakes
Not taking your ideas seriously enough to write them down
Fear of criticism and rejection
Afraid of words, thoughts, and deeds
Want life to be easy and carefree
Don’t know what to write
Yadda, Yadda, Yadda…
How to Ignore All the Reasons Not to Write
Write. Simply write for the heck of it. The hell of it. The torture of it. The joy of it. But write.
Read and follow along with Julia Cameron’s wonderful writer’s life-preserver, The Right to Write. Back when I almost gave up the ambition to write, her book and her words of gentle permissions to write saved my writer’s soul.
Meanwhile, go ahead, I dare you… write something.