Writing For Yourself

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I’m actually writing a non cooking thing right now. Sound the horns. No, but seriously, I was thinking about this earlier last week when I found myself writing something I’ll probably never show anyone. When do you write for yourself?

As a writer, everything is for myself, to some degree, however, I do consider who the reader might be. I am a poet, so I think poetically. I’m an essayist, so I consider the form. I write fiction for who might read it within the genre that it fits. At some point, everything is written for the reader. But what about writing just for yourself? Something that will only be for you to look back on. Be it essay, poetry, fiction, flash fiction, even non fiction.

I had a very vivid dream the other night that was one of those ones where you sit going, damn I wish I didn’t wake up. It was that good. So I am turning it into something just for me to enjoy and read again. There is no prerogative other than just writing down an event. But I feel kind of guilty that it’s only for me. I’m sure I could turn it into something for fiction, but I don’t plan to. But can you just write just for yourself?

I’m sure all my writer friends would say yes, but tell me honestly, do you ever just sit down and write for just your eyes only? Or do you have a prerogative of some point?

I kind of wonder if this is why I have that writer’s block problem, which currently I do. I’m worried so much about who the finished product is for, that I’ve stopped writing for myself. The irony on this post comes after picking up Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  I need to stop coming to the page with this plan to write something specific. I need to just write. I wanted to write a poem about the snow falling today, but I didn’t want to write a poem about snow falling, because it wasn’t working. Then I thought, why not just write down the words that fit what I was thinking

snow     needles     sun globe     marshmallow      shadow      lemon fuzz      reflection       gray     blue     ice      water       glitter      mist     metal    cold      Shakespeare      Dante     Nathan     Chicago      friends      lonely     walking     family     Colorado     western

I am sure I could file all of those words and thoughts crashing through my head as I walked with my mom into a poem. Something that might not mean much, but turns out into something for just me, or maybe eventually someone else. But who cares if it is for someone?  That was why I wrote the character sketch that was the previous post. It was just something that I could get out for fun.

Is anyone else getting stuck writing lately? I spend more time writing in my head. As I sift flour for cakes, toss a round of pizza dough up, stoke a fire, look out a restaurant window, lying in bed at night, listening to a Billie Eilish song…. (Bad Guy is playing right now). My writing is stuck in my head. How do you get it out?  I wish our writing ideas were like the stuff in Harry Potter where the memories are pulled out to view. Only onto the page. Ha! Wouldn’t that be fun?

Kate

4 thoughts on “Writing For Yourself

  1. My concern is not that the thoughts get stuck inside but that they won’t stay there enough to get them down outside. So I try to have notebooks throughout my life, and still I find I have a thought and nothing at hand to set it down. Sigh. (I’ve tried to make notes while driving but have largely given up on that.)

    I admire the idea of walking into a poem. Preceded by all the words you give, I parallel walking outside in winter with walking into the poem. I think you’re well on your way.

    I think we do write for ourselves, but we also write to be read. Reading completes the transaction, if not the contract. But can we write only for ourselves? Sure. I keep a journal of sorts that has no audience but me. However, sometimes it becomes its own thing to write to. I suppose that’s in a “Dear Diary” sort of way. And because it’s in the computer, the journal then is readable (my handwriting isn’t); and I guess someone human could read it later. That has to be okay, and I try not to inhibit myself over a phantom future reader.

    You write with great openness and clarity. It’s a treat to read your work.

    • I am so behind in replying to this! Walking into a poem happens a lot, when I’m actually walking. The irony. But I think best when I don’t have paper at hand, which makes it frustrating when I want to just jot something down. I’ve started carrying a little notebook with me at work and something just for those thoughts that half the time will in turn be just for myself.
      I totally agree that to write must include being read. It would be like cooking a dish only to not eat it. What is the point? but at the same time, we cook for ourselves to enjoy our own tastes. I make sweets for myself to eat, things no one will ever want to eat. So writing has to be the same way. We have to be okay to write something that is just for yourself. Or myself. Maybe somewhere someone will read it years from now, but maybe not. Maybe it will be that bottle of wine that was found in a vault 100 years from it’s bottling. Or maybe it is just that delightful bowl of cereal you just had to pour.

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