Is “writing for yourself” a defense mechanism?

Quaoar

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To get a little background, you may skim through these two Reddit sites: here and here.

As a newish writer, I can’t help obsessing over statistics. I check ScribbleHub every hour to see if my novel has gained readers. It’s become an annoying habit that literally gives me headaches. I’m starting to wonder if this is going to be worth it or not.

Then I found out you should write for yourself. Well, I was aware of this advice before I dedicated myself to ScribbleHub, but when I got to the actual experience, that advice became more emphasized. They say you shouldn’t care about the audience. You shouldn’t write for attention; you should write what you want to read. The statistics should be off-limits to your hobby.

I wonder: is that a defense mechanism?

Writing for yourself seems like a great idea. Whenever I hear that phrase, I feel some sense of freedom. Like I don’t have to keep on checking if my popularity has increased. But I realize that it’s also a way to avoid thinking negative thoughts, by simply ignoring what readers say or think about your story. Denying your unpopularity, if you will. You don’t want to be influenced by their squabbles. To not feel unhealthily envious or resentful is to become selfish.

But either way, I decided to become blind. I decided to post my chapters blindly (unless I get grammar mistakes, of course). I shouldn’t write with too much awareness. It just cripples me, and it just spoils the fun of writing. I’ll try my best that whenever I post a new chapter, I should close ScribbleHub at an instant and never check it again for the day. I can only check it when I’m going to publish a new chapter. That’s going to be my goal from now on.

What’s your take on this? Are you a writer who writes for himself/herself, or a writer who writes for others?

Or both?
 

SakeVision

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no I never even intended to publish this story until I remembered franz kafka, at any rate I want to create my waifu and this is my no.1 motivation in writing the story
the number 2 motivation is that the story I envisioned is a good story and it would be a shame if it was never projected into reality, and only I can do it


that's about my original fiction

now about various fanfics I wrote(including the one in my signature)

when I have a cool idea I just get down to writing it and I have jolly good time to revisit familiar settings in characters but with whatever twist I wanna give them

ok. that's it about what I do currently. Now a little something about what I used to do in the so called "past"

In the so-called past, I was a naughty, edgy kid, and wrote stuff that was only publishable on gurochan, where I'd post in as anon and no one ever even commented on it. But it didn't bother me, because I got all kind of instant gratifications from the content if you know what I mean.
 

Jemini

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Take it from someone who has been through the whole routine and has managed to write a couple series that got a fair bit of attention.

There is no problem with liking the fact that you are getting readers, or enjoying it when you get more. There is not even a problem with wanting more readers or attention on your series. Not caring whether or not you get readers is 1 of 2 meanings that the term "write for yourself" means. And, honestly, it is the less helpful of the two possible interpretations.

The other interpretation of the phrase, the one that will help you A LOT as a writer, is do not try to write in such a way as to please your readers. The readers will ask you for harems, they will ask you not to kill that character, they will ask you to see more of that character in the story, they will ask you to ship this and that character. You have to ignore all of this. You are not writing for them. You are writing the story you want to tell. And, frankly, the people who try to make all of these demands are idiots. They do not know what they really want, and they do not know what's really good for the story.

Write in accordance with what's good for the story, do not try to write something or put something in your story just to please the fans. I made that mistake one, it is the reason why my first story completely collapsed in on itself. It is because I kept a character around who should have been phased out, and that character began sucking the life out of the story when she overstayed her welcome.

You should never listen to people who are requesting ridiculous things like that. Sometimes it's worth paying some attention to critiques from a writer's perspective, listen to the people pointing out plot holes, and if you have a lot of combat in your story then it's also worth listening to the HEMA nerds who will point out the real martial techniques used and the real characteristics of various weapons. If you hear from someone speaking on anything other than those 3 subjects though, ignore them.

The 3 later subjects are people who are genuinely trying to help improve your story, and they will do it from a perspective that allows the story to still continue to be your own and they are often respectful of that. However, if they are asking you to change something about the story "for them," then the story is not "for them," it is "for you." You are writing for yourself.

EDIT: I called out the HEMA crowd in particular because, frankly, they are the crowd most likely to catch someone out because a lot of people do fantasy combat using medieval weapons. But, that is a little too specific for what I was trying to reference here. The more general and accurate term would be "experts in the field you are writing on." If it's about medieval combat, it would be the HEMA crowd. If you are writing about military culture, it would be someone who was actually in the military. If you are writing about treating diseases, it would be a healthcare worker. Experts in the field are worth listening to, and are among the few reader comments you should pay some attention to in terms of considering changes to your work for their sake.
 
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BenJepheneT

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trust me kid, we all wish for our stats to fly high like the others but at some point, you have to realize that not everyone wins the popularity roulette.

i used to be you, checking my story at every second for a bump that never comes. i also considered writing for myself. just finishing a chapter and leaving it for good in google docs.

then I realize that's just a coping mechanism and a healthy dose of running away from harsh reality.

don't get me wrong; "writing for yourself" is a thing that's prevalent throughout many authors. I'm not saying everyone who writes for themselves are pussies that don't want to face reality; there are certainly works some authors would like to keep to themselves that they rather STAY kept even with the assurance that it'll blow up the moment it goes online. just look at the number of posthumous paintings and albums from artists and painters out there.

what I am trying to say is that at some point, if you"write for yourself" just because you don't want to face the deafening silence you get online, you'll lose that interest in even writing in general, because you're essentially turning that possibility into a concrete fact. back then you don't have many readers, now you have none at all. I'm not saying you're vain for wanting readers; everyone who posts here does, but if you give in to the notion that you'll NEVER get one, you're never going to. this isn't a fabrication of encouragement; this is a fact.

I've been through that and I chose to keep posting. I was sure that probability wise, I might get a guy or two to read my stuff and after two years, I now have at least two regular readers that come to my story and comment about it whenever it post. hell, I got three guys in my own discord channel because of that. it's not much but it's honest work.

regardless of the poor stats, put it out there. for now, there's no one reading it, but at least it's out there as opposed to being kept to rot in your folders.
 

whitesculptor

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I write for fun, to express the ideas in my head the best I can, without expecting anything from others.
Ended up going pretty well, and nowadays rather than statistics which are just numbers I look forward towards comments and people's intakes on what I wrote, doesn't mean I'll get a comment per chapter, most might be a simple thank you, which as I mentioned in a different thread, "I wouldn't thank a stranger for something I didn't like."
To summarise, yes do write for yourself, and do it in a way that you and other would like to read, by this I solely mean well written as best as you can!
My favourite comments so far have been when a reader attempts to anticipate the future based on how the plot is being built and roll!
Cheers, happy writing, happy reading!
 

EternalSunset0

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To get a little background, you may skim through these two Reddit sites: here and here.

As a newish writer, I can’t help obsessing over statistics. I check ScribbleHub every hour to see if my novel has gained readers. It’s become an annoying habit that literally gives me headaches. I’m starting to wonder if this is going to be worth it or not.

Then I found out you should write for yourself. Well, I was aware of this advice before I dedicated myself to ScribbleHub, but when I got to the actual experience, that advice became more emphasized. They say you shouldn’t care about the audience. You shouldn’t write for attention; you should write what you want to read. The statistics should be off-limits to your hobby.

I wonder: is that a defense mechanism?

Writing for yourself seems like a great idea. Whenever I hear that phrase, I feel some sense of freedom. Like I don’t have to keep on checking if my popularity has increased. But I realize that it’s also a way to avoid thinking negative thoughts, by simply ignoring what readers say or think about your story. Denying your unpopularity, if you will. You don’t want to be influenced by their squabbles. To not feel unhealthily envious or resentful is to become selfish.

But either way, I decided to become blind. I decided to post my chapters blindly (unless I get grammar mistakes, of course). I shouldn’t write with too much awareness. It just cripples me, and it just spoils the fun of writing. I’ll try my best that whenever I post a new chapter, I should close ScribbleHub at an instant and never check it again for the day. I can only check it when I’m going to publish a new chapter. That’s going to be my goal from now on.

What’s your take on this? Are you a writer who writes for himself/herself, or a writer who writes for others?

Or both?
I'm inclined to agree that it's a little of both for me.

As Ben said, I'm pretty sure everyone wants good stats, good readership, and all. That's why we publish our stories online anyway. The way I see it, if we literally gave no damn about readership, we likely wouldn't be taking the step to publish and post stuff online. And yeah, I know how "writing for yourself" is possibly a way to make yourself feel good if you've not won out on the popularity roulette.

It's mean to say "suck it up," and very discouraging, and I don't want that, so I just tell others to write for themselves. Find that small readership or a friend or two whom you can share your story and bounce ideas with.

It's something that I would really, really suggest doing. Or at least be realistic and have tempered standards and satisfaction thresholds. It will make writing far less stressful because you'll be enjoying what you're doing or feeling a sense of fulfillment instead of crying over the "undeservingly popular" GB/smut/Isekai, whatnot that your supposedly far superior, far creative, far intricate work of genius somehow can't compete with in popularity and readership.

Don't get me wrong though, I myself crave popularity and readership, but I have long come to terms that only a miniscule percentage of people, chiefly those who know how to play the market and/or are good writers in the standards of the reading public can "win."
 
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i feel writing for myself is still a pain in the ass.

i need to give myself some incentive to actually get motivated enough to finish a chapter.
 

TunTun

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Big cope

However, you should always write for yourself. Just don't use it as an excuse as of why your work is not popular
 

AriaKang

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As an author who has been called out too many times by so called popular authors about writing bad or having plot holes, the truth is that we are all imperfect and even the most celebrated authors do have plot holes. Standing up for yourself is the best thing you can do as an author, don't feel bad if you check your book to know your stat because that's your baby right there, you labored to write it (them). Personally, I write what moves me, even when I know that writing a particular plot will get me more readers but I really don't care to write that unless I'm in the mood or it catches my fancy. On different occasions I have been told to write like a particular author or make a certain storyline and I'm like what in the world? In the end you have to stand your ground as an author and write what you want to either read and or write.
 

CupcakeNinja

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To get a little background, you may skim through these two Reddit sites: here and here.

As a newish writer, I can’t help obsessing over statistics. I check ScribbleHub every hour to see if my novel has gained readers. It’s become an annoying habit that literally gives me headaches. I’m starting to wonder if this is going to be worth it or not.

Then I found out you should write for yourself. Well, I was aware of this advice before I dedicated myself to ScribbleHub, but when I got to the actual experience, that advice became more emphasized. They say you shouldn’t care about the audience. You shouldn’t write for attention; you should write what you want to read. The statistics should be off-limits to your hobby.

I wonder: is that a defense mechanism?

Writing for yourself seems like a great idea. Whenever I hear that phrase, I feel some sense of freedom. Like I don’t have to keep on checking if my popularity has increased. But I realize that it’s also a way to avoid thinking negative thoughts, by simply ignoring what readers say or think about your story. Denying your unpopularity, if you will. You don’t want to be influenced by their squabbles. To not feel unhealthily envious or resentful is to become selfish.

But either way, I decided to become blind. I decided to post my chapters blindly (unless I get grammar mistakes, of course). I shouldn’t write with too much awareness. It just cripples me, and it just spoils the fun of writing. I’ll try my best that whenever I post a new chapter, I should close ScribbleHub at an instant and never check it again for the day. I can only check it when I’m going to publish a new chapter. That’s going to be my goal from now on.

What’s your take on this? Are you a writer who writes for himself/herself, or a writer who writes for others?

Or both?
Its a defense for people who care way too much about their popularity than they should. For people like me? I don't need the vanity. I don't give a flying fuck if people don't like my stories as long as they're polite about it. I know i can write well, but even if i can, the story or the way i choose to write it is going to rub SOMEONE the wrong way. So i stopped worrying about it at all. Besides, who else would i write for if not myself?

my guy, literally a week ago i was reading a story and i thought, "man, i could write a similar story that's so much better than this." AND I STARTED IT.

And i have this habit now, I've noticed. If i see a scene in a story that i think is stupid or could be written way better if i did it, i would have the urge to do so. Whether any reads like it or not matters fuck all to me. And sure, i used to check my stats too. But not even very often, maybe once a day if at all, then i stopped almost altogether and only look at my tag rankings out of idly curiosity.

Yall really need to stop obsessing over your stats and rankings and people's opinions. Not everyone is going to like your story, that's a given.

But lets not pretend you're writing the next Lord of the Rings, my guy. None of us are. Just make sure your grammar is decent and go from there, improve through self-study for your own sake.

Yall are too hard on yourselves and think your rankings are so important when its not. Whats important is if YOU think writing is worth the time. If you enjoy the story you are creating.

This all only changes if you are writing for money, if you are trying to earn money to live off of. Then you need to see if you are skilled enough to write what you want, or if you have to sacrifice and follow trends. Otherwise? Dont give so much of a fuck about rankings. They are illusory. It's like obsessing over an Upvote online. The hell are those upvotes doing for you? Nothing.
 
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Flashwolf96

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A lot of people have made very good points already, so I won't add anything more than just this simple image that I refer to whenever I start to feel that my writing isn't "good enough", either for myself or for those who'll eventually read what I'm writing:

 

EternalSunset0

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A lot of people have made very good points already, so I won't add anything more than just this simple image that I refer to whenever I start to feel that my writing isn't "good enough", either for myself or for those who'll eventually read what I'm writing:

I like this one too
10433118_664347023649397_7620982651792125165_n.jpg

I like when people share wholesome or uplifting stuff, no matter how realistic they may be
 

Flashwolf96

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I like this one too

I like when people share wholesome or uplifting stuff, no matter how realistic they may be
Oh wow, that one's really great too :blob_happy:

I think messages like these are important for a writer's motivation (well, they are for mine at least). Even if I know they're just empty words, doing my best to convince myself that they're true is what helps me keep writing no matter how my chapters are received.
 
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It's not a matter of why you're writing but why you're posting. Are you looking for attention? Validation? Monetization, so you're looking for an audience. For my case, it was feedback. It's easy to get lost in the numbers. I used to check a good few times a day. I still do but it's much less now and mostly for comments since SH doesn't show them unless I refresh. Once you understand why you care, you'll be able to stop.
 

RayneStorm

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I wrote for myself for years. Now I hate that advice. No actor says they want to act in a movie for themselves. They want people to watch it. No artist says they're going to make a masterpiece and hide it away. Writing the stories you enjoy and want to read is good but at this point in my writing life, if no one is reading it then it feels as if I'm wasting my time. I enjoy my stories but I also want others to enjoy them too. Also, I want to be a professional writer and once the whole career thing comes in, finding an audience is necessary. The people who shout 'write for yourself' the most, are usually the ones who have given up on success as a writer and want to make themselves feel better by sounding more 'enlightened'. You see it with artists and actors who can't get jobs in their fields too. There is nothing wrong with wanting people to read and like your story. And the people who say readers and comments don't matter obviously have never got them because I get an energy that's hard to explain when someone comments that they can't wait for the next chapter. My fingers fly across the keyboard and my brain is working at 1,000 m/s. Like yeah, I outlined my book and I plan what I'm going to write when I sit down at the computer for the day so the chapter was going to get written anyway but having someone wanting that chapter really helps with motivation
 

chocomug

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As someone who writes for myself, I regularly check the stats because it's affirmation that I'm not the only one who finds it interesting.

I have written something for the readers before, but have ended up dropping it because of too much expectations.

Writing for myself gives me the flexibility to drop or play around with the plotline.

I am quite a defensive person, so it's partially influenced by that mentality. It's something that helps me cope with stress, and the small amount of readership gives me good stress to continue writing.


So the "write for yourself" mentality is based on how well a writer can handle stress. Some people excel when there are great expectations, and some sink to the bottom.
 

KoyukiMegumi

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Well, I don't care about popularity. All I care is about my escape. The reason I started posting was that my friend was like, you know your stories are good, right? You should post them. And I did. He is still the first person to read anything, so I guess I have my very own personalized beta reader.

My intent for this isn't to get fame or love or anything, just to provide an escape for my readers whenever I upload my story. Thus, if one person finds an escape in my writing, I am happy.

Though, I won't lie that it feels great when people talk to me about my stories. Negative or not, I don't care. It is fun to see how they interact with my story and the characters I create. Everyone has different opinions or sees things differently than I did when I wrote, which is fun to see.

Though, what makes me happy the most was this one reader, who told me it made her day when I uploaded. I was in bliss after that, because it was what I want to do. :blob_aww: So, I write for myself, always will.
 
D

Deleted member 45782

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Since I don't expect my writing to go anywhere, I write for myself. I see people often feeling bummed put about how little views/ratings/readers they get. I don't feel it as much, because for me I already accepted the reality that it ain't gonna happen so why keep worrying over it? Have a lot worries and don't need to add another one on the list that pulls you down into a gloomy state.

I haven't really written anything in months, anything for my stories that I care about really. I'm just planning. Maybe when I start writing a story I really care about, I would feel what others say. But I'm gonna try to stick to write for self first. I don't want to be the person that is always asking how to get ratings/views/readers or favoriting my own chapters just to make it look like someone took an interest in it. If it was not meant to be, it was not meant to be. I do want people to like my stories, but I don't want to stress over it.

I write for myself, but what I plan is to write... Maybe something someone might like or feel it resonates. Or maybe not.
 
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