Why Everyone Should Write (Even if You Think You Stink)

We often hear it said that “everyone wants to write a book.” Although we may find a certain amount of comforting inclusiveness in this idea, I think we also sometimes respond to it with at least a smidge of disdain. After all, the only people who should really be writing books are those who are good at it—or at last those who are serious about it. Right?

But this idea, however vague or unrealized, is problematic—for many reasons. For one thing, I think it is the internalized cause for much of the shame and insecurity that authors (and I daresay other artists) tend to struggle with so stereotypically. For another, it suggests that creativity and communication are only worthwhile if they attain some arbitrary (and often ever-shifting) standard of universal quality. And finally, adherence to this idea to whatever degree also robs the individual, and ultimately the world, of many other types of potential blessings which extend far beyond the created work itself.

I’ll be honest: even the title of this site—Helping Writers Become Authors—implicitly suggests that only “authors” count in contrast to plain old workaday “writers” (though there really isn’t a dictionary distinction between “writers” and “authors”). I suppose this is all fine and well. After all, at a certain point most people engaged in any artistic pursuit—and especially to the degree that they desire a return from it (commercial or otherwise)—will find purpose and enjoyment in understanding and improving their craft.

But insofar as this site, and many others like it, seem to be focused on “the serious writer,” I think it is important to remember that writing is not merely the domain of those who have proven themselves “worthy” through exemplary skill and study.

Indeed, I hope everyone does want to write a book. And I hope everyone writes at least one book—or poem or screenplay—or paints a picture, takes a beautiful photo, etc. The act of creativity is sacred. More than that, it is the portal through we which we have the opportunity to bless our own lives and by extension the world. And this is true even if our work is witnessed by no one but ourselves.

If you have ever come to this site, others like it, or books about writing—or even just read a novel by someone whose skill and inspiration felt miles beyond your own—and felt that you should give up right now, that you have no right to write anything or call yourself a “writer,” much less an “author”—or if you feel your scribblings, however passionate, do not count because you have no ambition to publish or be a “good writer”—if grammar and story structure and arguments about POV and the Oxford comma aren’t your thing—it doesn’t matter.

We need your writing—and mine (because I feel most of those feelings on a regular basis)—as much as we do any of the great classic heroes of literature. The world needs us all to be writers and creators. It needs the next Pulitzer winner, and it needs the scribbled poem forgotten on a napkin in a cafe.

Creativity vs. Commercialism

For writers in this post-modern age, who have at our fingertips more options and control for publishing and making a career of writing than ever before, there is a danger of confusing the inherent worth of creativity with what often seems its natural commercial endpoint.

Not only does “everyone want to write a book,” but many people also dream of being published authors. Any prestige aside, as well as the idea that being a writer might provide a more rewarding vocation than a “day job,” we also tend to find deep resonance simply in the idea of sharing our ideas and words with others. After all, writing perhaps more than any other form of creativity is about communication. If nothing else, writing stories that are commercial successes seems to be the best way to communicate with the greatest number of people.

So far so good. And we all have to make a living (and, after all, writing is how I make my living, so I’m definitely not knocking it!). But it is important not to conflate the act of creativity with the act of selling the products of that creativity.

The worth of your writing is not determined by how many books you sell. By anyone’s standard, there are a plethora of great books that have never been published or, if they have been published, have never sold many books—just as there are a plethora of bestsellers that really aren’t that great.

More than that, however, the idea that the goal of writing must be commercially-viable publication is problematic because it discourages creativity for the sake of creativity. And that is really the whole point anyway.

Even when unwitnessed, creation is an act of organizing the chaos of life into order. It is what is sometimes called in the old fables “sorting this from that.” To whatever degree your art and your writing allow you to do this for yourself, it will impact those around you and in some measure the entire scope of life. That is hardly without value.

Even just journaling—churning out Julia Cameron’s three “morning pages” a day—is an offering of creativity and order that anyone would benefit from. The more discipline we impose on the act—the more we understand about form and beauty—the more potent the effects become.

The Dangers of Perfectionism

Perfectionism might be considered “the desire for order taken too far.” If we view the act of writing as bringing chaos into order, then it’s perhaps not too surprising that perfectionism is a common struggle for many writers. I would suppose it is especially potent for those of us who believe our writing should be worthy in some way (by the blessing of another person’s approval or, again, by commercial success—which indicates, among other things, the blessing of many people’s approval).

I’ve spoken before about the important distinction between “perfectionism” and the “professionalism” that allows us to seek commercial success (if we so desire). But it is important to recognize that however wonderful and important is the discipline of improving one’s craft, this never means that “imperfection” invalidates either the act of writing or, necessarily, the writing itself. After all, has there ever been any such thing as a perfect story?

Too often, this obsessive compulsion for perfection can whirl writers into too critical (and, indeed, often incorrect) judgments of their writing’s quality. If the judgments are too harsh and too frequent, they can understandably result in the writer giving it up.

And that is always a shame, not just for the writer but for all the rest of us as well.

The 3 Gifts of Raw Creativity

To be human and alive is to be creative. This is our gift: to create, to process, to seek beauty, to understand, to communicate, to innovate, to revere, to learn, to grow. When we turn writing into a caste system in which only certain “children of the gods” are blessed with the ability and the right to make stories, we limit our own ability and often the ability of others to find joy in the simple act of creation, regardless of objective value.

There are three specific gifts your writing—whether it is your best writing or your worst—has to offer:

1. The Gift to Yourself

Even if the primary goal is to communicate something to others, we all start out writing for ourselves. We write because it rewards us in some way. Perhaps it clears our minds or our hearts. Perhaps it brings us joy or relief. Perhaps it helps us see new perspectives and find unexpected growth. Perhaps it helps us process and grieve. Perhaps it helps us make up our minds. Perhaps it is invigorating. Perhaps it is relaxing.

Whatever the case, we do it because however hard it can sometimes be (and sometimes, frankly, it is herculean), it blesses us. The act of creativity always has the potential to offer a gift to the one doing the creating.

Indeed, I’m quite sure that is why we are all here. It is certainly why I am here. Writing changes my life every day. That occasionally I write something good enough to publish is the least of it. Writing helps me live a better life. Full stop.

2. The Gift to Others

Some of our writings we never share, either because what we have written is too personal or because we know (or fear) it isn’t objectively good enough to communicate properly with others. But for most of us, the very act of creativity eventually prompts a desire to share our creation.

Although the ego undoubtedly gets involved in this, I tend to think this desire is deeper and more organic than simply the need for validation. Rather, it is because in creating—and especially in writing—we are desiring to communicate with others.

Anyone who has received a positive comment on their writing knows that the true joy is not the ego’s happiness that its skill has been confirmed, but rather the sense that someone else “got it”—they were able to receive what you had to give.

As readers, we understand this experience as well. Indeed, we long for those special words that seem able to say the very thing we needed and wanted to hear (without perhaps even knowing it). When this happens someone else’s writing becomes a gift to us.

More than that, I think we are inevitably blessed by others’ creations whether we experience the creations or not. When someone we know composes their thoughts in a journal or a private story, we are blessed by that. Whether we ever realize it or not, our world has just been made a little more stable, perhaps even a little more beautiful.

Too, we gather inspiration and courage from the inspiration and courage of those around us. How blessed are we when we get to witness someone else’s passionate act of creation? How can we not be encouraged? (And do not miss that “encourage” means to “give courage.”)

3. The Gift to the World

There is a poem of sorts, supposedly based on the words of a 12th-century monk, which I often think about:

Do you want to change the world?

Change your country.

Do you want to change your country?

Change your town.

Do you want to change your town?

Change your neighborhood.

Do you want to change your neighborhood?

Change your family.

Do you want to change your family?

Change yourself.

To which I would add: “Do you want to change yourself? Write a book!” (Or create just about anything.) And I don’t mean, necessarily, a world-changing book. Any book will do. In fact, counter-intuitively, the most personal and vulnerable book might be the one to have the most significant effect.

I also do not mean that you necessarily have to publish that book or even allow it to be read by anyone else. Rather, this is about recognizing that the simplest and humblest act of creation in itself has the ability to create positive change in ways far beyond your ability to see it.

Finding Ultimate Worth in the Act of Writing, Rather Than the Product

If you want to be a published author, go for it. If you want to make writing your living, chase the dream. If you want to hone your craft and learn to write stories of qualitative merit, then please do.

But don’t forget that all of these pursuits are not intrinsic to the value of your writing. The act of writing is valuable in itself and is the foundation upon which any further value may then be compounded. The product of writing is a different consideration altogether. It is not an unimportant consideration. But it comes later, if at all.

Whenever you write from a true place—joy, grief, anger, desire, curiosity—you are writing something important and worthy. Celebrate that. Celebrate your courage in simply being willing to look inside yourself and to try to communicate what you find. That isn’t nothing. Indeed, that’s everything.

The next time you find yourself thinking “my writing stinks” or “I’m not a real writer” or “I should just quit”—don’t. Keep writing. We need you.

Wordplayers tell me your opinions! Why do you write? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in Apple Podcast or Amazon Music).

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Thank you, this post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been dithering about and not giving my writing the attention it needs so this is a boost. On another note, I write a music blog where I post a link to my first book. Three years ago, after posting a review of Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson’s autobiography, I felt unworthy to post a link to my own book. One of my readers called me out on it, to which I was grateful.

  2. Thanks Kathy. This was KM Weiland at her best.i write to share my life existence, to resonate with another like-minded human, no matter when, no matter where, no matter to my knowing.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “no matter to my knowing”

      I resonate with that. Sometimes it’s just the sense of connection that is powerful.

  3. BK Jackson says

    Perfectionism is the worst. Wish I could say I’m a role model of success in dealing with it but I’m not. But my hope and prayer is that anyone who wants to write for any reason will NOT be hindered by it.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Perfectionism is hard. But the very fact that we’re dealing with it at all at least means that we’re brace enough to turn inwards and look it in the eye rather than giving up and avoiding it.

  4. Eric Troyer says

    The older I get, the more interesting I find the human creature. We have these incredible organs – the brain – that give us great control over our environment. Yet, that same organ can require a huge amount of psychic maintenance. Animals don’t seem to worry about the worth of creative activity. They seem to do it just for its own worth. Children, too. But as we get older, we want others to give it worth as well. And often we don’t think the worth we give it is equal to the worth others give it. So, we seem to create our own problems. I try to keep that in my when I feel the sting of rejection.

    Thanks for offering some psychic maintenance!

  5. Grace Dvorachek says

    This is very timely for me, as I always tend to get a little weary and discouraged by reaching the Third Act in a book. Sometimes I’ll even give up the project altogether and move on. But this is one book that is going to get finished if it kills me. (Okay, maybe not that extreme…) Thank you so much for encouraging me to keep on keepin’ on!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, the Third Act can be a time of mixed feelings. Sometimes it’s exciting, but it can also be sad and even demoralizing. Hang in there!

  6. This is out and out the best blog on writing I have ever read.
    If only I could get this message delivered intravenously, and continuously! I have seen this exact realisation dawn on my own students (of freewriting), and it’s my best self’s core belief but so hard to hold onto in the face of MS rejections and day-to-day internal rubbish-head. Thank you.
    P.S. Your chapter on the inciting incident has possibly just rescued my WIP!

  7. That’s so uncanny. I was daydreaming yesterday and I found myself so frustrated that I can’t make my imagination flow anymore, and I started thinking of how little people tell stories to each other nowadays. Stories became complains of our daily issues (bills, money, future, etc) and the verbalization of our anxiety. I urge to find again the ability to tell stories. How can one feed the imagination? Cheers from Brazil, the actual cyberpunk dystopia that anybody should live in.

  8. Gordon Petry says

    What a wonderful message (once again). I’m forwarding it to my writers’ group and my cousin and a friend and saving it to send to all my students when classes begin again. I always save your emails. Thank you

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks for sharing, Gordon! So glad you enjoyed the post.

    • Kara Morgan says

      This blog has helped and inspired me so much! This post is everything I think and believe about creativity and writing but can’t seem to actually manifest into my life because the societal tethers of success and productivity have become so strongly embedded in me as an adult. But I’m working on readjusting my mentality little by little.

      Writing came back into my life in a big way a few years ago, and it felt like I rediscovered a whole part of myself I had forgotten about – I’ve never done anything that has brought me so much joy and fulfillment. But, unfortunately, unlike when I was a kid just writing constantly because I loved it, I started thinking about things like success, about making a career out of writing, and about doing it “seriously.” Because I loved it so much and saw potential in what I was creating, it just made sense to me – but, sadly, at that time in my life I also latched onto it because I felt like I didn’t have anything else. As a result I ended up focusing more on “writing as a job” than the actual act of writing itself, and the joy it brings me. It took me those two years to figure out that the idea of being published and attaining success is not why I started writing again, and it sure isn’t what I want to be motivating me to return to the page every day – the joy of writing itself is all the motivation we need!

      I read something in the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott many years ago that stuck with me, as a teenager whose dream it was to become a published author, and I feel that it goes along with this post (I’m paraphrasing): We tend to focus so much on the endgame – but no matter the outcome, even if we do achieve that dream of becoming published, of making it a career, when we look back the writing itself will always have been the best part. So let’s not forget to write for the sake of writing. 🙂 Thanks, as always, for the wonderful post!

  9. I love your newsletter so much! This one, in particular, really resonated with me. Recently, I published a series that I thought was some of my best writing. It hasn’t sold as well as I had hoped—less well than previous books I thought weren’t as good. (And weren’t as personal.) This put me off writing for a while. It didn’t seem “worth it.”

    Inspired by you, I’ve been trying to remember why I write and what I love about it. It’s creating my own world and special friends, being able to hide there whenever I want, and figuring out my life and my place in it. I write to know myself as much as to escape. I have a complicated past, and there’s always something I’m working through. The real world, itself, is complex, and I deal with its stress and drama by creating my own world with stressors and drama that I’m able to address and control. When I frame it that way, my writing is much more important to me than commercial success.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Catharsis has always been a huge reason I love writing (and reading) fiction. Working through real-world issues inside the symbolic dreamscape of fiction can be so powerful.

  10. I sat down not wanting to write and decided to stall by reading this article. Instead of distracting me, it has given me the encouragement I needed to open Scrivener and stare down that blinking cursor once again. Thanks!

  11. I cannot convey how much I needed to hear this today. Thank you.

  12. Anthony David says

    It is true. Writing clarifies our minds and the creative act of penning lines is so healing, I find. It helps us feel complete as we create some piece. It helps us to feel like co-creators with God. Thank you for this revealing peace!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think this is true no matter what type of writing we’re doing. I haven’t written any fiction this year, but I’ve done more journaling than I ever have in my life. And I feel many of the same personal benefits.

  13. Such good words! A real encouragement this morning!

  14. Thank you so much for writing this, Katie. I agree wholeheartedly. Since I was a teen I’ve aspired to writing fiction, but have never felt that my words were good enough to publish. Meanwhile I have written advertising copy, press releases, book and music reviews, and technical & instructional writing to the tune of thousands of words, all in pursuit of feeding my family. It has only been recently that I realized I was a Writer. I mean, I’ve been writing since 5th grade, but because it wasn’t sold in bookstores, I didn’t think it was “real” writing. Thanks to you (and many others), I’ve made my peace with the fact that I don’t have to be a journalist or a John Grisham to be a writer. Thank you so much, as a “real” Writer, for affirming this realization that I’m one too.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hear, hear. This is something I’ve had to come to terms with as well. Even though I’ve written and published fiction, I’ve always tended to discount the worth of “other” writing, including this blog. But it’s all writing. It all counts.

  15. John White says

    Ah, the poet emerges. A lovely article. Thank you.

  16. Kathy Frost says

    Thank you for this post. I always thought I was an oddity because I have never thought about writing for publication. I write for myself.
    I write because there are stories in me that want to come out.
    I want to write stories that I like. Stories I can save and put in my Kindle for the day that I am too old to write and want to read stories I enjoy, books based in my own fictional worlds.
    Thanks for telling me that it’s okay not to be writing only for the money.
    Kathy F

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      There are many wonderful things about be published. But I have always resonated strongly with Anne Lamott’s words in Bird by Bird: “Being published is not all it’s cracked up to be. But writing is.”

  17. What a beautiful post, Katie. I’ve been a “creative” my entire professional life: multi-media director, filmmaker, photographer, magazine editor, ad agency creative director, published author, yada yada. Heck, I love creating designs of the plates on my kitchen counter. The reward is in the act. Writing in this case. And your 3 Gifts are a perfect way to describe it. Bravo!

  18. Very encouraging. I needed that right now. Thank you.

  19. Katie,
    This one really upset me! I can find nothing to disagree with, disparage or otherwise disrespect, and you know how I live a good whine. This business of writing lovely posts that warm our hearts threatens to drive me to muteness.

    On perfection, I had an experience that has guided me from a very different field. I had a friend who was trying to do a perfect rebuild on a truck motor, down to the point where he was shaving the burs off of screws (all screws have some burs on them even if you can’t see them). He reassembled the motor and it ran perfectly, for 200 miles, until one of those perfect burs worked its way out of it’s hole and scored a piston block. This happened because he’d shaved off the burrs. It turns out that screws need to be imperfect.

    I’m sure this applies to us as well. It’s our imperfections that bind us together. I may greatly admire someone of strength, but I only stay with people who I have something to give, and if I have something to give them, they are definitely not perfect. Only relationships built on sharing strengths and weaknesses last. It is a blessing in my life that I’m not such a perfect writer that I need no help with my writing. My imperfections bring me helpers, and their imperfections bring me friends.

    I know it’s hard to see this at times, say between 12:01 AM and 11:59 PM, but I believe our imperfections are our gift, and that embracing them is the path to a flourishing life. We do not need to apologize for where we are as a writer as long as we’re working together to get better.

    So I think we need to try to not let our imperfections scare us, and one way to do this is to walk around them and see what gifts are hiding behind them.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Bam. What a great analogy.

      • Ouch! I didn’t think you’d hit me, but darned if you didn’t go old school Batman on me.

        What you do through this blog is a gift to us all, and I want to encourage you to give us more. Your fiction is wonderful and I look forward to the day I see more of it. If there is a way a hack such as I can help, let me know. I’m sure there are many who feel the same way.

  20. My great-great grandfather, who was a veteran of the Confederate Army in the U.S. Civil War, felt that all of the published accounts of the Civil War were false (too much emphasis on high-ranking generals, ignoring the points of view of the lowest-ranked soldiers), so he was moved to write his own Civil War memoir. In the preface, he said he wrote it so that his children may understand what the war was like. He self-published it and lost a lot of money. His children resented the book because he had squandered what they perceived as their inheritance. However, after his death, his grandchildren were proud of his memoir, and paid for re-printings. I’ve read it myself, and though I consider the writing quality to be bad (his parents were illiterate and I’m not sure how much formal education he had, so it’s impressive that he wrote any kind of book) I am grateful that could learn his perspective on the Civil War in his own words. He interpretation of the war is different from any other I’ve encountered, either from that time period or today.

    Today, it is in print through a university publisher with a new introduction by a professional historian. Apparently, it is one of the best documentations of conditions in Confederate field hospitals (since my great-great-grandfather was physically weak and often unhealthy, he spent much more time in field hospitals than fighting in battle). When I see reviews online, I sometimes see comments like ‘I was doing research on my ancestor, and he was mentioned in this book, I’m so glad I found it’ and I realize how lucky I am that I don’t just have mentions of my ancestor in a Civil War book, I have a Civil War book entirely written by my ancestor. (I wish that my great-great-grandfather who served in the Union army had also written a memoir, but I realize that having even one Civil War memoir in my family is incredible good fortune).

    All this is to show an example a book which, despite not being commercially viable, made the world a better place, and continues to do good over a hundred years after it was written.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      How powerful to have a book like that written by an ancestor. My grandfather was a WWII vet. I’ve read accounts written by other soldiers in his company, but I wish I could read one written by by grandfather himself.

    • What’s the name of the book?

  21. As other commenters have said, your timing on this piece is cosmic! I’m slowly returning from an almost two-year absence from my writing desk, and every word you wrote was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      For the first time since I started writing, I took a conscious sabbatical from fiction this year. Really, it’s been a longer break than that since I wrote hardly anything last year. I’m still working my way back, figuring out what I want to do next. It’s definitely a different face of the writing life!

  22. Joan Kessler says

    Thanks for the encouragement, and for the reminder that the act of creativity and the product of creativity are two distinct gifts. I know that conflating the two is what causes me stress. It makes sense to enjoy and acknowledge the act of creating for its own sake. I need this kind of encouragement regularly!

  23. I’m an old man who always thought he could write. Now that I’m retired and have the time, I started writing short stories. To my dismay, I found that they tracked closely to events in my life. I seem bound by my experience. I wasn’t creating, I was retelling. So, I resolved to write down enough of my fairly interesting life to get it out of my system. I’ve passed 70K words and am birthing a genuine, albeit inconsequential, memoir.

    Some of what I’ve written pleases me greatly, but much of it doesn’t. However, as you have helpfully explained, this does not matter. Reviewing my life through the lens of memoir with a particular slant has helped me make sense of my experience. In more than a few cases, my writing has strengthened my feelings about having lived a worthwhile life. When I finish it, I hope to be sufficiently free of my past to write about interesting situations unrelated to my life. Even if that does not happen, I will not regret the many hours of typing, thinking, and revising this project entailed.

    Thanks for an encouraging essay.

  24. Gary Lee Webb says

    As ever, your text is inspiring. Becoming more than good in any skill takes practice, practice, practice, and begins with a first step, the first rod, the first mile, and the first day. Occasionally the journey seems like it will take forever, but if you place your goals in the stars and keep your eyes focused thereon, you can get there. As Vergilius wrote, “Sic itur ad astra” [Thus to go to the stars].

    This past year has been very slow for me, as it has for many, I am sure. But any progress (however slow) is progress. My novel is now three years in the works, should cross 98,000 words this week. Most of that was August 2018 – end of 2019, but it is increasing. And — hey — I just sold a short story to an anthology, nickel per word. That may not be professional (8 cents per word), but I shall count it as a success. It *does* say I am making progress towards becoming better.

    Good to have the encouragement. Thank you!! Hope all is well with you..

  25. Claire Graber says

    Thank you for this post! I listened to the podcast version, and I felt I should go back immediately and listen again.

    This was so timely for me (as it sounds like it has been for several others)!

  26. John Capron says

    Made my day, young lady!

  27. Ms. Albina says

    I liked your post. I am also kind a perfectionist. Is the second book of Dreamer out yet?

  28. Bridgitte Rodguez says

    This was great. Thanks for the validation.

  29. E. G. Bertran says

    A very timely and necessary item. It is very true that we forget that it is one thing to write and another to publish. One should write for oneself (despite the advice often given in the famous books for writers to write for our “target audience”).

    Some time ago I started a blog where I wrote my opinions, reflections and experiences without the expectation that anyone would read me, just because I needed to express myself in a more public way, put my thoughts in writing. Today it has exceeded one million views even though I stopped posting on it eight years ago. I feel satisfied for all those readers, but more so for having created my personal blog.

    Just like you, after six years of pursuing my dream of being a professional writer, I needed a year off to give myself a break. I do not feel sufficiently prepared for the work of great magnitude that I have in my mind and in my heart. Or maybe it’s perfectionism that blinds me.

    So I decided to start a different creative activity, one that would be a challenge for me and be able to work on the acceptance of imperfection, where the important thing was to create for the sake of creating, without thinking about whether it was right, correct or worthwhile. So I got into the world of the Bullet Journal, and I realized that not only could I draw (childhood trauma of not being good at drawing), but I could activate my imagination and my sense of fun and play. Now I enjoy that activity and use it to create a Bullet journal for writers, simply because it helps me focus and regain the joy of learning and writing, for the sheer joy of being able to do so.

    When I wanted to turn my fun into a profession, I forgot the pleasure it gave me to imagine my stories, and in the end, success does not depend on oneself but on circumstances.

    Thank you for reminding us that art is our expression in the world and that this is the best reward.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “I do not feel sufficiently prepared for the work of great magnitude that I have in my mind and in my heart. Or maybe it’s perfectionism that blinds me.”

      I hear you!

  30. I’ve been following you for years and have learned an immense amount about the craft from you. I have recommended your site to many people not only in Australia but also aspiring writers I’ve met when traveling in Europe and Russia.

    This post though, WOW! Your perspective is refreshing, important and ponder-worthy. I want to forward this wisdom of yours to my children, my friends, everyone! Thank you.

    Now I must scroll to the top and read again. This post needs to be embedded.

  31. Cathy Graham says

    Fabulous post that definitely resonated as I can see by the amount of response.

    I was on Zoom with my writing coach today discussing this very thing about writing. I AM a writer even if I don’t have published books and tons of awards and accolades.

    I’m 61 and realized time is growing short with less time ahead of me than behind me. I’ve been writing and taking writing courses for years and years and have loved being creative all my life. I told my coach that my goal is to finish my romance novel and my young adult novel before I get too old to write anymore. Being published isn’t the ultimate goal as even thinking about that kills the joy I get out of writing. I like the idea of being published but know it’s hard to get there and quite daunting. Mostly I just love the whole creative process and how writing makes me feel so alive and connected to my soul and my zany imagination.

    Your article was so timely and inspiring to read. Just because I’m not a renowned published novelist doesn’t mean I’m not a writer. Thank you for reminding us all of the value of writing for itself and what a gift that is! We are writers!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      It’s funny (or not) how hard it often is for writers to claim that term. Even now, when people ask what I do, I’m never quite sure what to say. “Writer” never comes out easily–and usually gets a blank stare anyway. :p

    • Peter Linton says

      Cathy ~
      .
      I’m 61 too (Well, October but . . .) & what you replied with connected.
      .
      Anyway, I’m open to (beta?) reading your romance if you’ll read mine. An audience of one (1), but it’sa start.
      .
      ~ P

    • Gary Lee Webb says

      And I am 66 (next month) … even less time. But I have been slowly progressing on my varg novel these past three years and expect to have it complete within the next dozen months (health willing). I *know* I am a good writer (and yes, I need to get better). And then perhaps to finish my Pollonien trilogy (75,000 words, started in 2012), but I realize that will take a lot of rewriting since I *have* improved. One goal at a time.

      A bit of encouragement for the three of us. Lilian Jackson Brown (“The Cat Who …” series) wrote her first three books younger than we are, but wrote her *next* 26.5 books *after* she turned 70.

      We could each have over two dozen books left in us. Or more.

  32. As always, inspirational and direct to the point.
    My wife is an artist and art teacher for adults and I read your post to her this morning over coffee. Unsurprisingly, she found the words and ideas so important and so relevant she had me print the article and will pin the pages up in her art studio/ classroom wall.
    For me the lesson was clear as it was a year ago when you penned similar words. Then, because nobody wanted it, I self published my screen play on Kindle and now, rather than try for perfection, I’ll do the same with my over-revised, constipated novel. I may never attract readers but at least it’s out there rather than being hidden in my desk bottom drawer.
    The final point is really just a brag. I commence a post-graduate creative writing uni course this coming Monday – three years on-line study. And I can’t wait!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Congrats! And I think you raise an excellent point about the value of putting the writing “out there,” in whatever form, even if it’s just to get it out of the drawer. I see a lot of positive movement in that action, even (or especially?) if it’s not attached to outcome.

  33. Thank you for this post! I allways wrote with pleasure, created my own words and worlds. Untill i believed, it was necessary to publish. I wanted to give my voice the room i believed it needed. Instead i stopped writing, became mute as the young mermaid in the fairytale from Andersen. I almost forgot: Life itself exists because of a creative act. When we create, we not only live, but also fulfill the reason we exist. Thanks again for reminding me.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “Life itself exists because of a creative act. When we create, we not only live, but also fulfill the reason we exist.”

      Hear, hear!

  34. Like so many others have said, this couldn’t come at a better time. I’m struggling through whether or not to continue trying to write because it’s just SO HARD sometimes LOL. This post reminds me that it’s not about whether I write anything good enough to publish, it’s about the realization that this is my way of processing my emotions and thoughts and maybe that’s enough. Thank you for blessing us with your gift of knowledge and encouragement!

  35. Sara McBride says

    I’ve been reading your posts for years, but never commented. This is one of the best blog posts I’ve read in the past few years from anyone. I’ve already shared it with friends trying to find purpose in their post-pandemic lives.

    Now we’re all taking the time to do one creative thing everyday.

    Thank you!

  36. Lew Kaye-Skinner says

    In his *Defense of Poesy*, Sir Philip Sidney wrote that we are able to create because we are created in the image of the Creator. That’s a Christian thought aimed at a Christian audience, but it applies to all people everywhere.
    P.S. My old, tired memory says that book was written in 1586. Or maybe that’s when he died. At any rate, it was a long time ago.

  37. This was very encouraging for today. Thank you.

  38. Thank you so much for this. It’s such an important message. There was a time I wrote for pleasure, just for me, poems for the people I love, stories for my children. Then I decided (and with my husband’s support) to focus on my writing as a career – it was my dream to have one of my YA novels or Picture Books published. But suddenly, I was filled with all this noise – all these things I should be doing if I wanted to be an author. I suddenly had to spend a lot of time defending my choice to write (I say had, I should have just ignored the doubters). Everything became about the endgame, and the joy was gone. Last year, locked down, home schooling, feeling lost, I gave up on writing completely.

    In the last few weeks I’ve picked up my pen again. And maybe the world will never read my work, but it feels a bit like coming home.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I hear you so much. I took the past year off from writing to clear my head of much of the same noise. I look forward to getting back to it in the right timing.

  39. Colleen Janik says

    The timing of this blog is amazing to me for a couple of reasons. I had taken a few months break from the novel I had been working on for a couple years. I didn’t know if I could go back to it because I was certain the inspiration had died. I was sort of forced to go back to it today and was shocked to find that I still love the theme, the characters, the story. There is still a burning desire in me to complete this book. It’s like a journey I must take and I’m not sure exactly where it ends but it is somehow profoundly meaningful to me personally. It’s not my life story by any means, but there is something in this story that grabs me and will not let me go until at some point in time the story is completed. It’s like a rather spiritual journey to me.

    The second thing about your blog today that struck home was the determination I feel to share this story. I have decided that one way or another I will get it published even if that means self publishing, which, quite honestly I have not been excited about. I want to have copies to share with those who are close to me: my children, grandchildren and a few close friends. I’m not expecting it to be a best seller. It’s just a story I must share, a part of myself I feel a need to pass on. I hope that to a few important people in my life it will be read, understood and that these people will be touched by this story. I feel that these characters I’ve created are…what is the word? Some real, that they exist in some realm in our universe and it is these characters who have something they feel obligated to share with the world.

    Thank you for your blog!

    • Colleen,

      Traditional publishing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. My best friend was traditionally published and had such a horrible experience that she quit writing for two years.

      After years of chasing the the brass ring, I self-published and am so glad I did. There are ups and downs, but strangers from countries I’ll probably never get to visit are reading my books. I have a small subscriber list to my newsletter that is devoted and active. When I stop and remember that I, initially, only hoped one person would connect with my writing, I feel very fortunate. Don’t let anything stand in your way!

      • Gary Lee Webb says

        From what I have heard, it depends a *lot* on the publisher. Some are excellent and some are not very helpful. Like everything else, you need to shop around, query your writing friends, see who will provide you what you need (or get an agent to do that).

        I did query a friend (Hugo and Nebula winner) about her experiences and will try traditional publishing first (next year). Self-publishing is not for everyone.

        • Yes, Gary, but traditional publishing isn’t for everyone, either. I merely wanted to encourage Colleen to keep her options open. Not everyone gets to be a Hugo winner or bestseller. To paraphrase Madmen, the world has room for only so many ballerinas. Good luck on your journey!

          • Gary Lee Webb says

            Quite true and thank you. I have been publishing stories (1000 – 10,000 words) since 2012; I am looking forward to getting a novel finished (and hopefully published). We shall see!

            Good luck with yours.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Good for you! It can be so powerful to hold a printed copy of your book in your hand, even if you only print a few dozen or so.

  40. Thanks! And kudos! I’ve published five novels and six novellas since 2014. (Two of the novels and one of the novellas were written prior to then.) I’m working on my sixth novel. I learn something new with each one. Katie is an excellent teacher. I wouldn’t have made it through the last two novels without her. Eat up everything she says, and I promise you’ll finish that novel.

    You’re also never too old. I’m fifty and living my best life.

  41. donaldjayauthor says

    Even as a retired person with minimal day-to-day constraints on my time, I find myself questioning whether I am wasting my time writing. The struggle to get in front of readers seems insurmountable, and I sometimes question if I am legitimately a writer if so few people read my work. Your podcast came at a critical time for me, and encourages me to continue. Thank you.

  42. Lew Kaye-Skinner says

    Donald, as another retiree, I wonder how you have “minimal day-to-day constraints on [your] time.” I keep saying ‘yes’ to too many things. Recenty, though, I made a list of short and long fiction with endings (making no judgment about how satisfying the ending might be). it’s a long list. Some of the short stories in particular were as if completely new to me… and surprisingly, startlingly good. My daily goal right now (when we’re not in NaNoWriMo) is to get _some_ words on the page every day. You gotta keep showing up. A secondary goal is to get some of those completed pieces out where readers can find them. All in good time.

  43. It’s so interesting to see the difference between your previous posts and the ones you make now. You’re really explore the emotional and beautiful side of writing, and your posts have taken on this really holistic, balanced view that’s been very beneficial to me. And yeah, I agree with this wonderful post. The original reason I started writing was to steal the worlds of other authors and add my own characters. It could be fanfic or self-inserts or original ficton, but i’m trying to go back to that.

    And I like how you emphasize how its so important to criticize your internalized assumptions about what it means to be an artist, and to discern your limiting beliefs. I used to think every project needed to be a novel, but now I’m looking long and hard at an idea and thinking about whether or not I can make this into a short story or even a page of flash fiction. Or how I used to think I needed to write every day when it’s actually very harmful for me because it feels like a never-ending grind and it’s much more balanced to do a few days a week, and maybe drawing on the other days.

    I’m trying to get back to writing like this and every time I fear I’ll never be as good as my child self (it’s funny because she actually suffered more than me. Took 45 minutes to squeeze out a paragraph of decent prose) I try to go back to this quote:

    “There is no old self to go back to. There is only a new self to embrace and celebrate and nurture”

    I hope I can nurture my new self and explore my new relationship with art

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “There is no old self to go back to. There is only a new self to embrace and celebrate and nurture”

      I LOVE this. Thanks so much for sharing!

  44. I love K.M. Weiland and her passionate yet polished writing. She inspired me. Here is my acknowledgment of her:
    It’s in the following forthcoming self-published book that I co-wrote: “Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir” by Mesfin Tadesse, 2nd edition.
    The 1st edition was raw and Ethiopians ate it up. (We were stranded in Addis Ababa due to Covid-19 travel restrictions by the Australian government.) An Englishman wrote saying that this was a refreshing change from memoirs with a huge production team behind them – they end up in the wastepaper basket.

    • Sorry, because I enclosed our acknowledgment in pointy brackets, it did not insert in the above. This is what I wrote: ‘Two American books influenced our expression – William Brohaugh’s Write Tight & K.M. Weiland’s Writing Your Story’s Theme. Masterfully written.’

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

        Aww, thank you so much. And I learned a lot from Brohaugh myself! Hope you get home soon, and all the best with the book!

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