I’ve been writing for a long time. I still have moments, however, when I struggle with confidence.
I find myself wondering if I’m going in the right direction with a story. If I’m writing about anything interesting to anyone but myself. If what I’m writing is even worth putting the time and effort into.
So every once in awhile — certainly not as often as I should, to be completely honest — I sit down and write something I know I’m only writing for myself.
Something happens when you remove the crippling pressure that often keeps writers from reaching their full potential.
You end up producing some of the most risky, unique, possibly even the best work you’ve ever completed.
There is no expectation that someone else is going to critique every word or mark of punctuation. There is no fear that you’ll go “too far” and someone will call you out on it.
It’s like comparing how you act at a party full of strangers to how you act when you’re home alone.
At last, you can finally be yourself. You can finally write only what you want to write.
Yes, things like feedback are helpful, usually necessary.
But not every time. Not always.
Write something today. Write whatever you want. But do so without the pressure of a deadline or a good angle or prose free of plot holes. Make it personal, make it dark or shallow or grossly cliche or whatever you want it to be. Write about what you want to write about, HOW you want to write about it. Do something crazy. Throw in so many plot twists that even you don’t know what’s going on. Test your own limits. How far are you willing to go? Is it too extreme — can you push boundaries even further?
Yes, you can. Because you don’t have to worry about anyone ever reading it, if you don’t want them to.
Freeing, isn’t it?
But here’s the thing about writing something you never intend to show another soul …
You might write the worst thing you’ve ever written. And you’re free to laugh at yourself, analyze what you could have done better, appreciate your effort anyway (or not).
Every once in awhile, after the fact, you realize it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. Maybe.
And you start to think … maybe, just maybe … this one’s worth a shot after all.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.