Sometimes I feel like I've been writing my whole life. And to a certain extent that's true. I wrote and illustrated my first story when I was six years old: a historical fiction roughly three sentences long about the origins of the moon.
When people ask me why I write, or how I got into writing, I never quite know what to say. The only answer I can think of is something the lines of: "I don't know, it's just something I've always done."
At times writing has been a way of processing my feelings or working out a problem. Some people meditate or go for long walks. I write. Putting pen to paper is how I make sense of the chaos of thoughts and feelings inside my head.
Then I got older and started studying the craft and art of storytelling. I quickly learned that writing (or any work of art for that matter) can't be that self-centred. Sure, I can still use writing to process and reflect upon my life in private when I'm journaling, but as I start to move more and more toward writing as a career, I have to distinguish carefully between private and public work.
Work for the public that I intend on publishing either here on my blog, as a feature article on another site, or even in my book, must be, first and foremost: For. The. Public.
A very wise professor of mine in theatre school once said something along the lines of:
"I don't care if the actor is crying. I care if the audience is crying."
I think that sums it up perfectly.
As I start putting more of my writing work out into the public, I'm trying to be more and more vigilant with myself. Is what I'm writing worth 5 or 10 or 50 minutes of someone's time? In the case of a book, will readers consider it $20 or $30 dollars well spent?
I hope so.
And perhaps more importantly, I have to ask myself: What will my work do for the public? Not: What will my work do for me?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on these musings. I think that finding a balance between expressing yourself while still prioritizing the audience and giving them something of emotional, intellectual, or artistic value is a challenge for any creative person.
If you're a writer or artist, how do you figure it out?
Since this might have turned into a slightly more philosophical post than usual, I'm going to throw in a bit of fun here at the end to lighten the mood!
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