Today is a bit different.
For a start it’s 7.48 pm rather than 5.30 am, so I have really missed the boat on the morning words today. Not to worry. I’m doing it. Hooray.
I listened to an interview with Marc and Angel as part of some material I am looking at for Asian Efficiency while I was getting dinner ready. Marc raised an interesting issue and I’m trying to scroll back through the video to pinpoint the exact words. They are discussing knowing your “why” being important in being able to focus and get things done. They are asking if you can align what you do now so it’s more in line with your purpose. If you don’t know your why, it’s easy to stop doing something if an obstacle comes up and distracts you.
Angel’s saying there is no end – it’s just a journey, you continue to build on it. Marc says you have to be in love with the why and you have to love what you’re doing. He says you don’t do things to do things, you do them to get things done. And the steps that you take to get your goal are more important that getting to the goal.
He’s talking about when they started writing their blog, they started out writing for themselves and they had no readers – they weren’t writing for anyone, but they wrote anyway – their purpose was to write for themselves. So you need the alignment to your why – you have to be doing it for yourself, not to get feedback from others. It has to be for you and there has to be a reason why. If you’re a writer you have to write. If you’re a runner you have to run. You don’t stop.
I think this is very much along the lines of Catherine Deveny’s position – you write for yourself. I have to pull her book out and take a few notes.
How does this balance with the writing tutors who say that you have to write with your reader in mind? For example, in her book How Writing Works, Associate Professor Roslyn Petelin says that you have to make sure your writing is:
- legible for the reader
- aesthetically attractive to the reader
- interesting to the reader
- understandable to the reader
- able to be acted on by the reader (page 21)
Writing is a form of communication. So my question is, are you communicating if you aren’t writing for anyone? You’re communicating with yourself perhaps? In her book Use Your Words, Ms Deveny says that “writing changes the world. It connects people”, which implies there is a sense that when you write, somewhere in there is the thought that someone will read your writing.
Associate Professor Petelin goes on to say that “when people write about something they understand and learn it better” and that many creative writers “don’t know what they’re thinking until they start writing about it”, which is almost exactly what Ms Deveny says in her book:
We write because it empties our brains, lightens our emotions and helps us feel more deeply, see more clearly and sleep better. We write to give our thoughts order and explore our emotions. Because it makes us feel more like ourselves; it’s our way of making sense of the world. Most importantly, we write for the same reason we exercise, eat and sleep: it makes us feel better. (Use Your Words, page 24)
I’m sure there is an answer to this dilemma.
Or maybe it isn’t a dilemma at all. I write a journal every night with no expectation that anyone other than me will read it. Writing for me. That’s writing. I’m a writer; it’s what I do.
I write a blog post occasionally and expect that some people might read it and someone might get something out of it. Writing to communicate. That’s writing. I’m a writer; it’s what I do.
But what about “writing” a vague idea that one day I might write a thing that might or might not be deemed by someone to be publication-worthy in a forum smaller than the world of my blog? Do I write with that end in mind when I begin?
Catherine Deveny says no. “Write as if no one will read it,” she says.
I disagree with advice to write with your audience in mind. First, the audience don’t know what they want and never have. People just read, hear or see something and think, “That, yes, that!” Second, if you write to accommodate what you think the audience will want, you will miss out on what your idea or story really is. All this second-guessing will pull you off course and you will end up creating something that’s a response to your assumptions about others, not what you really want to say. (Use Your Words page 30)
It’s hard to argue with that logic.
And now all I need is to find my own why.
Or should I start writing for the sake of writing? Because it’s what I do?