It’s Okay to Write For Yourself

Written by A Guest Author | April 6, 2017

By Christine M. Estel

Like so many women–maybe you, too–I have a plethora of commitments in my life. I have a full-time career, a family and home to care for, friends I enjoy entertaining, and so on. While I barely have room for another morsel on my plate, I recently decided to pursue a long-time dream: to be a writer.

I quickly realized writing is a daunting task! It takes dedication and persistence. But how can the writing happen when there’s limited time to do so? Or worse, how can the writing happen when you’re up against skeptical or dissuading family members?

Women who choose to write, even if the results are not lucrative, should embrace tenacity and pursue their desire, keeping in mind the following strategies.

Make writing time manageable.

Challenge yourself to evaluate and track how your time is spent each day. Chances are, you’ll find so much time is wasted on watching mindless television or movies, scrolling through social media feeds, perusing shopping websites, or engaging in other distracting activities. Once you recognize your patterns, reserve a portion of this time for your writing pursuits.

Manageability is key. Carve out modest timeframes, and then build from there. For instance, you can exchange 15 minutes of Twitter time to write a thoughtful, emotive journal entry for the day’s events. In fact, small tasks are much easier to commit to than attempting an elaborate doctoral dissertation every time. Plus, smaller tasks are approachable.

Consider all the basic writing we do regularly–tweets, e-mails, recipe cards, postcards, to-do lists. A great technique for beginners is to transform the mundane into the extraordinary, just by working on diction and syntax, adding adjectives and adverbs, or even playing with sentence structures.

Don’t be deterred by others.

When a family member, especially a spouse, or a friend is not as supportive as we would like, we feel demoralized.

When I told my husband I wanted to write more regularly, his first question was How much does it pay? I wasn’t bothered so much by the question itself as I was by his condescending tone, as if I had no right to engage in an activity not positively impacting our monthly budget. He expressed his primary concerns, which were not much different than my own: lack of consistent funds, minimal time, and topic limitations due to the nature of my career. I pushed back. Even if my writing brings in buck or two, writing isn’t–and shouldn’t be–about money. Instead, writing should be about releasing the soul onto paper, to channel emotions in a cathartic way, to expose issues and concerns within ourselves and our communities.

If you’re up against similar people, I implore you to resist quitting. On the surface, you committed to writing, but truthfully you committed to fulfilling a personal goal. Let me say it again–a personal goal. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choice and, similarly, no one needs to understand your reasoning. But if you want to see your choice come to fruition, you must not allow others to stop you.

Listen to their concerns. Allow them to express their opinions. Then, when you respond, do so calmly and patiently; acknowledge their views, and agree to disagree. Additionally, encourage them to trust that you know yourself best.

Allow an organic process to emerge.

For some writers, writer’s block is as real as a days-old dirty laundry pile: It’s there, haunting, reminding you a task is unfulfilled. The more pressure we put on ourselves, the harder the process becomes.

Forcing writing will be all but wasted. Clear your mind, and focus on what’s important to you. Allow yourself to write whatever comes to mind, in whatever shape or form. There’s always room for revision and editing later.

Sometimes we hold onto our own fears about writing. We may fear discussing controversial issues, we may fear revealing intimate details of ourselves or people close to us. Even still, we may feel unsure of our abilities.

Stop disbelieving you have something important to say. Stop second-guessing yourself or assuming what you write cannot help, or be of interest to, others.

If you relax and just let the writing happen, fantastic results will emerge.

Final thoughts: In his 1985 essay, “How to Write with Style,” Kurt Vonnegut said, “Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about.”

Vonnegut was onto something. See, you don’t need a person to write for, or about. You don’t need to make money. Passion is all you need to write, even if you’re writing “just because.


Bio: Christine M. Estel is a high school English teacher, as well as a freelance writer and poet. She is a member of Beyond Your Bloggers online writing community, and two of her “Tiny Truths” for Creative Nonfiction were daily winners on 12/2/16 and 1/21/17. Follow Christine @EstellingAStory.