When first asked this question alongside hundreds of other writers, probably in a forum somewhere or in a Tumblr thread, I was convinced I knew the answer for sure. Of course I would still write: writing is my life.
But as I learned more about how to separate my different writing styles to fit different audiences and genres of writing, I realized quickly that as much as I would love for others to read what I was writing, no one really was. No one really is now, either. Yet I keep writing. I keep waking up every morning telling myself, “You’re going to write today,” and I always do.
I keep writing, even when no one is reading. Does that mean, if it were guaranteed no one would ever read a single word I wrote ever again, that I would keep writing anyway?
Lately, it’s difficult to say for sure. There is a small flame of satisfaction that burns inside every writer when they get a hit on their website or a compliment in a forum. A comment on an article, good or not so good, at least means someone is reading. That’s often better than nothing. After all, don’t we always write for an audience regardless of where our words are going to end up?
It gets tiring after awhile, writing and writing and writing without feedback or any indicator at all that someone’s paying attention. But as exhausting as it does become day after day, I don’t think writing without a foreseeable audience should be enough to make us stop writing if we’re attached enough to our craft.
Can it be proven that just because no one is reading your work, the universe is telling you that your work isn’t good enough to be read?
No, of course not. And maybe there are writers out there who don’t want anyone to read their work, and go out of their way to make sure it doesn’t happen.
I’m not one of those people, though sometimes I wish I were. I journal every day, though, and that’s my one chance to write only for myself, probably about things I would prefer not to share with an audience. I use that as my private outlet.
But I have my public outlets too—this site and other random places I’ve published articles and blog posts, for the sake of developing my skills and showcasing that I can write anywhere, about anything, that I’m not just stuck in one place writing about the same things over and over again.
If I didn’t have those things, if I only had my journal and kept a blog set to private and never tried publishing anywhere else, would that be enough?
Writing is as much a part of me as any of the tissues and organs (and awesome, DFTBA) that make up my existence. Once, at a point in my life I wouldn’t revisit if you paid the rest of my student loans and future tuition, I stopped journaling. And back then, that and the blog I kept that had an average of 2.5 readers at any given point in time, was all I had.
I wonder, sometimes still, if I stopped writing because I was miserable or became miserable because I stopped writing.
I like to think I’ll never stop writing, even if people stop reading. Which is likely: I’m not always very confident that what I’m putting out there is necessarily helpful to my intended audience all the time, and where audiences are concerned, if they’re not benefiting from the material, they stop seeking it out.
You’re still learning, with every piece of writing you develop, even if you keep it to yourself. You don’t need someone else to be there to critique it or comment on it or share it. Those things only help; they’re not necessary. But I don’t think I would be where I am today, working toward a professional writing career, if I had just one day decided to keep everything to myself.
I don’t write to get noticed, I don’t write for the sake of writing something for the fun of it. I do write to help people, communicate messages and (hopefully) start conversations. So I’ll end this rant with a question. And I think you already know what I’m going to ask.
If no one else ever read what you wrote, would you still write?
Would you still play with words?
Would it still be worth it to you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or should I say, read your words. Go on. Compose your words of wisdom, as the comment box politely requests. Don’t be shy. I’m not a robot. I really will read what you have to say.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink. Follow Meg on Twitter.