Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter
- fiction on the edge without crossing the line - Get a free book! Free book!

Perils and Promises of Writing For Yourself

notes from InScribe conference keynote

I promised more details from Randal Rauser’s keynotes and workshops after last weekend’s InScribe Fall Conference, so here it is! It pertains mostly to writers, but there are some good life lessons for everyone here, too.

Notes from the keynotes:

Writers often struggle with three fears: apathy, antipathy, and attack. First of all, apathy on the part of your audience is a real concern. No one wants to remain totally obscure. There will be days when we wonder if anyone even cares about you and your books. Second, we must expect some antipathy and learn to tolerate dissenting opinions. Not everyone will agree with us or like our work and that’s okay. Allow people an opinion that is different than yours and be cautious and courteous when responding to negative criticism. Finally, outright attack is a frightening prospect and one that many celebrities have had to face, sometimes for offhand comments. That’s one reason why it is important to watch your tone and choose your words wisely, especially on Social Media. Don’t invite negativism, unless this is part of your ‘brand’.

What does it mean to be called to write? Be definition, calling can mean:

  1. Vocation, profession, or trade.
  2. Divine call to God’s service *

We are called as believers FIRST. Out call to write is a secondary calling and is no more noble or ignoble than any other call. (We can have many secondary calls)

Randal quoted from Mary DeMuth’s blog post 10 ways to know if you’re called to write: (marydemuth.com )

  1. People tell you they are changed or challenged by your words.
  2. Professionals in the industry have commented
  3. Can weather criticism with grace and be determined to write better. (Teachable)
  4. You are passionate about your writing craft.
  5. You’ve heard from God that this is what he wants.
  6. You write even if you never make money
  7. Take writing seriously
  8. Not afraid to learn about every aspect
  9. You can’t help mentoring others
  10. You’ve settled the ego issue!
  1. What does it mean to write for yourself?
  • Writing for yourself is usually a “Passion Project”. This is defined as writing because of a love for, or importance of, the topic – not for the money.
  • The reality is, you also have to write for others: an audience, agent, editor etc. There are certain expectations, deadlines, 
    and topics that need to be covered, sometimes attached to financial remuneration.
  • Write to one person. Can this person be yourself? Write the story YOU want to read. (If you don’t want to read it, chances are, no one else will either!)
  1. What are the perils of writing for yourself?
  • Topics and trends change – You need to strike when the iron is hot and this isn’t always easy to do. Look for ‘perennial’ topics that don’t change with whims and trends.
  • Disinterest – your passion may not have a wide audience.
  • Lack of support – you are on your own in terms of finances, resources, editing, distribution etc.
  • Vulnerability – you are selling YOURSELF as much as anything; opening yourself up to the world, and this can make you feel vulnerable.
  1. What is the promise when you write for yourself?
  • Pursuing your passion makes writing easier, deeper, and more transformative. (It can change you.)
  • Increased productivity – when we write what we are passionate about we tend to write more.
  • We tend to be more authentic in our writing and write more deeply.
  • It can be transformative – The saying “Love your neighbour as yourself” can be translated, “Write for others as you’d like them to write for you.” It is not selfish to write for yourself if you keep this in mind.
  • Practically, you have full control, can make changes, etc.
Final thoughts
  • Success lies in faithfulness! 1 Corinthians 3: 6 – (paraphrased) Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God makes the seed grow. Don’t rate success by the world’s standards. Just be faithful to God’s call.

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.” W. Somerset Maughem

“Write what you know. That should leave you with a lot of free time.” Howard Nemerov

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.