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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Write For Yourself

It has been said many times that the older you get the more confident you become. But I am going to play devil's advocate here and say this isn't always the case. Here's why:

  • The older you get the more criticisms you will have faced due to unavoidable life events.
  • The more criticisms you face the more self doubt you have.
  • With every risk you take there's a chance of failure. The more risks you take, the more likely it is you will fail.
Look at it this way. When you were a child how much confidence did you have? Most young children are confident as they have not had much chance to fail. They are fearless because most of them haven't experienced the bad side in life: they do not know what failure feels like and therefore don't have that fear to hold them back. Their own world is limited, and most of what they learn is achieved by positive things like playing.

Here's another common saying: 'You only learn through your mistakes.'
This implies the only real way to learn is to be hurt through failure. Do young people really learn anything until they have been bitten by negativity?

So this is why a writer must write for themselves first. Write your book like no one else will ever read it. Stop worrying what your mother will think, what your editor will say, forget the general assumptions people may make. It is your book that you have written for yourself to read.

Back when I first started writing, I had this thought pattern. And it wasn't because I didn't want anyone else to read it, it was because I thought no one else would bother. I didn't think I would have a big audience. I don't know why I thought these things. Maybe because back then I had no previous experience to draw upon.

So I think that's why my style is so candid. I hold nothing back - so that's why my book reads like I'm just having a conversation. With myself. When I'm just talking to myself there is no need to hold anything back. Why should I do that? It's not like I've been hiding secrets. I haven't got a split personality which neither character knows about. I just talk. I say it like it is. And that's where I think great confidence comes from, so long as you're at peace with yourself. If you like what you say then what's not to love?

Besides, when you write you will always offend someone. It's just how it is. So you may as well please yourself first and write from the heart. And chances are people will agree with you if they think the same.

Happy writing!


  1. I’ve just finished watching a documentary on Sky Arts called Close Up: Photographers at Work. One of the photographers profiled was Jay Maisel who said the following—I ran the tape back to make sure I got it word for word: “The product is a by-product; the act of seeing is the moment of fun.” In other words the photography is almost incidental; being there to see whatever is there to see is what’s important. Having a camera in your hand is often all the excuse you need to be there; you get away with a lot more voyeurism if you have a camera in your hand; it somehow dignifies just standing around staring. (Having a pad and a pencil doesn't quite work.) Not everything that gets seen gets recorded. You can read most of my books in a few short hours but every one of them represents years—literally years—of my life. My books evoke memories you will never be privy to. This is why I don’t understand storytellers, writers whose primary concern is to entertain. There is a need for them and I, along with many others, have taken advantage of them but I couldn’t do what they do. This is why Maisel’s quote hit home with me. I’ve said similar but his quote is far more succinct. I’ve said that, for me, the writing is everything and the work whatever it is, a poem or a story, a novel or even a play can pretty much be discarded once the process of discovery has been gone through. I don’t because I’ve realised that others can get something out of my writing and it’s the green thing to do—I’m being facetious.

    As regards confidence the confidence that the old demonstrate differs from the confidence of the young in one single regard: the young are confident—cocky more like—because they lack life experience whereas the confidence of the old is rooted in experience. The young breenge into situations and sometimes it pays off; the old prepare beforehand, rehearse even and although that doesn’t guarantee success it does raise the odds in their favour. Their life experience may include mistakes but if all we had to do was make enough mistakes and we’d be someone then everyone’d be doing it. Making mistakes is only part of the deal. We have to learn from them and that is incumbent on us; the learning doesn’t come as a natural by-product of the mistake making.

    I get the idea of a book being a conversation with oneself—that makes total sense to me—and I never think about how others might respond to what I’m writing. As for whether or not I hold stuff back, well, if I knew I was going to destroy the text once finished I might but I do find myself at times pulling my punches. There is no need to be graphic. I was there; I know everything that happened; I just need enough to conjure up the memories. Let others read into the words what they will.

  2. Hi...dropping by after laughing at a comment of yours i read on JLMurry blog.

    Stop bye one day and say hi


  3. Hi Mac,

    Thanks for commenting :)I comment on a lot of blogs - it's a marketing strategy I use :) Although I don't remember commenting on the blog you've referred to. Oh well, nevermind. Perhaps you can provide a link to refresh my memory? :)