Getting sick of 'Write for you.'


#1

Got into a discussion about writing. To which I was offered some rather bleak sounding advice.

Writing will destroy you. 99% certain, you will never gain an audience. There are brilliant people writing who never sell a word. You will walk through worlds of majesty, and no-one will ever care.

If you write, do it because you will die if you don’t, but don’t ever expect recognition, or anything other than a kick in the teeth. That’s not what this industry is about.

This sounds annoyingly like ‘write for you.’ Which to me comes off more as ‘go fuck yourself.’

I know the chances of me making a career of things is about as good as getting to the moon by flapping my arms, but carer is less ‘goal’ and more ‘hey that’d be pretty damned cool’ I’m more focused on ‘this is something I can actually do and sorta don’t suck at.’

My core issue is… I’d maybe feel less pissed off about the non-everything in finding an audiance if I had other options for things to do that don’t depend on others for the core process I am actually capable of.

I’m tired of it feeling like anything I even halfway don’t hate down to my bones getting shit on and me getting told it won’t matter. I’m tired of the people speaking these things coming off less helpful and more ‘I am better than you I have accepted how things are. Bow Down’ I know a large part of this is reactionary anger, but knowing doesn’t make it feel any less like I’m bring handed a shit sandwich and told to take a bite.

At the same time I know there is wisdom in the sentiment so as angry as I am at constantky being told ‘give up you are nothing’ I have to admit the people spesking probably are doing so from a desire to help. It just comes off as incredibly spiteful.

Then again ‘shut up and grow a pair’ seems to apply.


#2

Part of the argument for creative writing is that it has relatively small cost associated with it. You need some quiet alone time and a laptop, or just a pad and pen. You don’t have to buy expensive supplies, you don’t need sophisticated tools, you don’t need to wake the neighbors with your practicing. Nobody even has to know you do it unless you want them to know. As far as anyone else knows, it might be homework, or extra paperwork from a job. You don’t have to please anyone else at all. When you have something you like and feel proud of, you can put it out there and see if anyone else likes it. Until then, you really are writing for yourself, and are trying to write the kind of story you yourself have always wanted to read.

There’s no shame at all in that. And the more practice you get at writing stories you like, the more likely you’ll write stuff that others want to read, too. Until then, just keep plugging away at it for yourself. You’re the only audience you need to please right now, and it’s worthwhile to make the most of that.


#3

And if you want rough draft opinions, you’ve got a forum-full here!


#4

None of this is helped by having problems figuring out if a criticism is distructive, constructive, personal, or otherwise and defaulting to distructive.

This does not make taking advice on how I can improve easy.


#5

I’m not so sure about that, because there’s a high opportunity cost associated with writing. It takes a lot of time that could easier be spent doing other things. I have anxiety about getting the words out of my head and onto the paper, because they lose something in the process. I’m worried that an idea that comes across as crisp in my head will come out muddled and just plain dull. And I’m also frustrated with “write for you” because I can always remember things that happened and daydream things that haven’t. Why put pen to paper and lose meaning (and time! ) if I don’t want to communicate what’s in my head with other people. It’s not about writing to improve then, because given a chance I will always say my stuff is good. I wrote it, after all. I also read into the stuff that isn’t on the page, but not because I read between the lines, but because I skip a step and don’t bother writing the good stuff.

There has to be a way to practice writing and not just “write for me”. How are the reddit forums? Also, I had this idea for an interactive serial writing contest, where each round is a new installment of the previous round’s story, and there’s discussion and feedback after each round. That probably sounds horrendous and anti-creative to most of you, but I think it would help me.


#6

It really isn’t though, it’s not personal, it’s just stating that you’d better do it because you like doing it since there’s a high chance that even if your work is outstanding the field is so crowded that getting a readership is both really hard and a lot boils down to luck. If it’s a hobby you like then you’ll get something out of it, if you’re doing it to make money, gain fame, etc., you stand a very high chance of being disappointed. That’s just how it is, and it’s not about you, it’s that way for everyone. So it’s not a fuck you at all, it’s telling you to do it because you love it, hone your craft and take some pride in your development as you improve, and write because it’s really awesome to write. If that’s your motivation your writing’s going to be better and you’ll have a better chance at building a readership, etc.


#7

Finding an audience is trivially easy. Finding a large, paying audience… that’s hard. But finding simply an audience? All that takes is a small measure of skill and a basic ability to deliver in a reliable way.

Fuck writing only for yourself. Find yourself an audience. At least for me, that’s been a hell of a lot more satisfying.

I’m fine with never hitting it big, but I don’t write because I like masturbating in the dark, I write because I want to actually communicate with people.


#8

Exactly. I’m currently just past 300,000 words in that fanfic I started for NaNoWriMo; I’m cleaning up what I’ve got so far (41 chapters so far, and I’m only a year and a half into a five year story arc! Eek!) and prepping it for weekly chapter posts on Tumblr and the fanfic archives while I continue to work on what I’ve got.

I don’t care that I will, in all likelihood, never see a penny for the hundreds of hours that I’ve sunk into it; I’m enjoying the process, enjoying the time spent sharpening my skills, and looking forward to anguished reviews from… certain chapters :wink: :smiling_imp:

Maybe I’ll attract enough of an audience that I can put up some of my original work and get some money via a Patreon. Probably I won’t. But I’m just viewing the chance to write and get feedback on my writing to be worthwhile in and of itself.

Plus… I love telling stories.

My categorization, as someone that’s put in his time in the fanfic mines:

Constructive: "Your story has [issue], and you can fix it this [way]"
Destructive: "Your story has [issue], and is terrible because it has that mistake."
Personal: “You suck for writing this story.”


#9

There is nothing I have that will make my family not a dysfunctional mess or ever feel like I am more than this ‘disabled child that never will be ready for the world.’ My writing amounts to nothing because it is an extension of what looks like an immutable truth one of the few skills I have is deemed of no value and is brushed off as ‘oh that’s nice’ weird but nice.’

How do I get past this. I am not even sure this is the thing, because it might be the blind man elephant problem. I just know it is important to any sort of larger problem that might exist and is definstely important for all the smaller problems that stem from this.


#10

You seem to be looking for a way to escape your family/circumstance/etc, and in this case have picked writing as the answer but you don’t like anyone’s advice about writing because it doesn’t address the reason you want to write, which is to escape. No one here can help you with your living arrangements or your “dysfunctional” family.

But many many people here can help you with writing.

I will give you the best piece of advice I ever got with regards to creative writing. Ask for specific critique. I did a creative writing workshop that required everyone to bring one page a week, to read out loud, and ask for critique. You HAD to bring a page and you had to ask for specific critique, if you didn’t you didn’t get to participate. That alone causes more than half the people to drop out in the first week. Asking “do you like it” or “what do you think” is intellectually dishonest and putting too much on your audience. You have to ask specific questions like “does the dialogue flow and sound sincere” or “I had a really hard time getting them up and across the room, what do you think of their movement” - when you ask for specific critique is when you learn specific things. I learnt that what I loved to write and enjoyed writing (dialogue) were not the things people enjoyed reading, and the things that I sweated and swore and hated writing (movement) people really enjoyed.

I do agree with the maxim: Writers write. - so if you’re a writer, write. :slight_smile:


#11

Interesting observation. Writing and other hobbies are escape, but only figuratively. They can’t get you out, but they can keep you sane.

On the other hand, I can see being hesitant to take other people’s advice on writing. Sometimes advice sucks because it sucks. I tend to hear the same trite advice every time, especially when it comes to writing. “Write for you” is sucky advice. “Join a writing group” is good advice, but may be easier said than done.


#12

My experience over the past two decades suggests otherwise, but alright fine whatever. An audience is easy ergo I’ve obviously been doing something wrong since nobody, not friends, not family, NOBODY has expressed more than polite interest when I write.

I have stuck to the supposed ‘fact’ to make even minimum wage you need a minimum of four successful novels per year unless you are a Name, and becoming a Name like King, Gresham, Steele, Butcher, etc is vanishingly hard without some kind of built in audience from another field. I simply want to feel like I don’t have to guilt trip or otherwise cram a manuscript down a friend’s throat to get them to look at the thing.

I cannot take pride in anything because for me nothing surrounding me changes. There are no markers to denote that anything has improved.

I personally can see the value in that as it forces people out of their shells. However I view that in the same light as actively putting a target on your foreheas.

Generally when I’m fishing for ffeedback I look for ‘any’ since trying to be picky to me looks like a gurenteed way for people to go ‘uhhh I dunno…’ Since I hardly get feedback I have to conceded this is probably wrong. However I do not rightly recall asking ‘hey did you like it?’ Just a blanket ‘is there anything that stood out good or bad?’

Funny, I keep hearing I don’t take advice because I’m a know it all know nothing prick that thinks he’s above everyone else.


#13

That sounds like terrible advice. On one hand, a very valid observation for anyone hoping to break into the print market and make any sort of compensation from it. On the other hand, the internet is full of communities that create stories, swap tips, and improve their craft together, their only audience being each other - whether it’s fan fiction, creepypasta, or what have you.

This is how one gets better. You take the best you can do, your labor of love, and you let other workers of the craft dissect it. The critical thing is to understand that they are not dissecting you and it is often difficult to separate one’s own self from one’s creation. Cultivate that academic distance from your work. In time you will be able to identify and accept valid critical feedback. One must learn to be egoless in this process. And yes, that is far easier said than done. One must learn how to accept critical feedback without being destroyed by the process. It may hurt at first, but it will get easier.

May I ask: why do you write? Is it because you enjoy the process? Because you feel it is a domain in which you have talent? Something else entirely?

I had a similar dustup with my family years ago - they wanted me to be financially secure first and to pursue my ambitions as side hobbies. I wanted my artistic pursuits to be central to my existence. In time, I chose the opposite and made peace with that decision. Everyone must resolve that conundrum for themselves.

I would recommend reading a biography or autobiography of an author that you admire. I’ve found it bracing to discover that many of my idols were complicated, broken human beings in their own way and that their works did not emerge fully formed and perfect. They struggle, they revise, they write garbage, but they never give up on improving their craft.


#14

That is how it is with all artistic endeavors. If you put it out there in the world then you are putting a bullseye on your forehead. You just have to be careful who you give the gun to. :wink: Don’t ask friends or relatives for critique. A) they’re not writers and B) they won’t give you real critique because they’ll be afraid of hurting you. Fine a writers group, even an online one, seek out other writers.

And remember, Stephen King was married, with kids, working in a laundry before his first book was published. And prior to that he’d written full novels that will never see the light of day and wrote for magazines as often as he could. It took him so long to become a “name” that he wrote under another name for a while because “King” couldn’t get published but “Bachman” could.

Have you read King’s ‘On Writing’? - its very good.


#15

Have you been writing for them? Or have you been writing for yourself and just hoping they’d find the light? It sounds like you’re expecting an audience to find you. That’s not how it works. I mean, that can happen, but that’s certainly not the easy way. You want an audience? Find people who are hungry for something, and then provide that thing. That’s all there is too it. Seriously, I can hook you up with an audience tomorrow if that’s all you want, guaranteed. There’s some real low barrier-to-entry markets out there where demand outstrips supply.

Because yeah, if nobody has expressed more than polite interest in what you’re writing, and you’ve been writing with the express intent of finding an audience for (double checks) two DECADES, you are absolutely, positively, one hundred percent doing something wrong.


#16

This is interesting to me, because “writing for me” is precisely how I started writing more – and more successfully.

Writing for yourself gives you the confidence to not care what anyone else thinks. Given how many people – including a lot of book lovers – get a kick out of picking on emerging authors, you’re going to need that. I’ve received brilliant feedback at workshops. I’ve also had people not read my work at all but try to give feedback anyhow.

One bit of advice I did get from a full-time, successful writer: remember creating the work and marketing the work are two separate tasks. Writing for yourself and having an audience are not opposing activities.


#17

Then educate to me preacher man. Tell me what I have been doing oh so terribly fucking wrong. That has what I have literally screamed at people in the past. Can you answer that question? Because right now it looks like you are throwing my own words at me stead of trying to help work around the issue.


#18

On the contrary – I just bought a novella which was written (at least in first draft) precisely like that. Two writers punted it back and forth between them, then handed it off to a third writer when they both ran out of steam.


#19

Sounds like play by post rp on a larger scale. Also sounds incredibly fun.


#21

I was assuming each writer had their own story, but it could be collaborative.