Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
I came across this quote today and it really struck me. Each Wednesday, when I do my Twitter Q&A, there are always comments from people who are afraid to get the words down because of what other folks might say–or not say. It’s really hard to let go and let the words flow. There is always “the public”, both real and imagined, that can choke us up.
And it doesn’t stop happening once you’ve been published either.
I’m working on my third novel and I feel like I’m writing for the public instead of for myself. I want to sell books. I want to make my readers happy. I want praise and pats on the back for a job well done. I want my agent to be proud. And my mom.
But that’s all for the public. And that’s NOT how you do your best work.
When I wrote my first novel, I wrote it entirely for myself with no public in mind. Obviously, I hoped that my agent would get me a deal for it. But that’s not what got my butt in the seat each morning. I was writing for me. I was writing a story I wanted to read. And one that was fulfilling for me–though I had no public at the time.
It’s very hard to get back to that space–the carefree space of writing without a public in mind. I’m not even sure it’s actually possible.
How on earth can I write and not think about my audience? It’s a challenge, for sure. But it’s one I must work on. Because in order to give the public what they want, I have to pretend they don’t exist.
Dear readers, do you have a hard time blocking out the world when it’s time to write? How do you silence the chatter?
I’d love to hear from you.