Maybe you can’t get anyone to beta-read for you. Maybe your friends and family are dragging their feet about looking at your short story. Maybe no one ever asks how you’re progressing or even asks you what your new book is about. This is a common experience for all artists, writers included.

People who don’t create can forget that books/films/comics/games are created by the hard work of other human beings and not sprung fully formed from the mind of some genius. People are absorbed in their own lives and anything outside their experience is difficult to relate to, or even imagine. Someone not showing interest in your art isn’t necessarily out of malice or disinterest in you as a person. They might be deeply interested in what you’re up to, but just forget about it in the moment.

However, I know for me, no amount of evidence to the contrary can completely dissuade the ‘no one cares’ feeling. Even if people say they are eagerly waiting for my next release, I think ‘yeah right.’ So for this post, let’s assume that in fact, literally no one cares. Your writing is still worth doing. Here’s why…

A feeling of accomplishment

People enjoy performing feats of skill for the sheer sake of it (and maybe some bragging rights.) Running marathons, recreating lavish architecture in Minecraft, painting elaborate photo-realistic portraits of their dogs, making a laborious risotto that takes an hour of stirring. None of this is typically lucrative, or ‘productive’ to our modern sensibilities. So why do it? Why knit a sweater by hand instead of buying it from Walmart? Why draw a picture when you could just snap a photo? Why bake your own cake when you could get one from the bakery? If you’ve ever done any of these things, you may get asked these questions. Why? Well, why not? Life isn’t just about earning money or pleasing others. It’s not about gliding along with no resistance and no challenge. You could eat that bakery cake and save some time (and probably money,) but you wouldn’t feel the accomplishment in having created something yourself.

Many people want to write, but very few finish anything. You created a piece of art when you could have just watched TV. Even if no one ever knew, it would still be worth doing just for the sense of pride it could give you for having created instead of consuming. If you found a flower growing in a gravel pit, would you really think, ‘wow, how pointless, no one’s even around to see it’ and stomp on it? And do you really care about the opinions of someone who would?

To build a skill —

You might argue, ‘well, my writing isn’t even good! Why should I be proud of it?’ For the sake of argument, let’s say that your writing isn’t good at all and has no redeeming value. (Which I highly doubt, but I’ll grant you this…) You should continue doing it. Why? Each time you write, you get better. Even if you’re not trying that hard, you will find shortcuts, you will hone your word choices, you will establish your voice. If you wrote and wrote, and just tossed everything you produced into the shredder, you would still grow as a writer. Our first few stories might not be that great, but we learned with them, we became better writers by creating them.

To be your favorite writer —

I read my own writing often, not to proof-read or edit, but for entertainment. If long enough has passed, I can just enjoy the story like any reader would. I don’t forget every last plot detail, but like re-reading an old favorite, I can be absorbed into the story all over again. One of the most heartening bits of feedback I’ve gotten was from myself. My boyfriend read something funny off his screen and I laughed loudly and asked, ‘Wow, who wrote that?’ He gave me an odd look and said, ‘you did…’ I’d completely forgotten what I wrote! I might not be the funniest person in the world, but I sure have the same sense of humor as myself.

This is the best part of writing for yourself, and not to please others — you can write the exact story you’d love. Like in my cake analogy earlier, you could buy a bakery cake, but what if you wanted a chocolate-licorice cake? Do you want a slasher story with intelligent characters and a happy ending? How about one where the slasher is redeemed and falls in love with another misfit slasher? You can create it for yourself, with everything you’d most want from a story. It’s not the same as somehow stumbling onto the most perfect, wonderful thing you never had to lift a finger to create, but how likely is that to happen? Plus, if it’s something that you love, I guarantee there is someone in this world who will love it too, and it’ll be their favorite thing of all time. (But oops, that’s breaking the ‘no one cares’ assumption…)

Write things that entertain yourself, and at the bare minimum, you’ll have a fun story you can truly enjoy reading. If you heard that the only copy of the book that would become your all-time favorite ever was buried ten feet underground, wouldn’t you go grab a shovel?

So, to sum up, even if literally no one else in the world cared about your writing, it’s still worth doing. Because you care. And I’m afraid to say that you do count as ‘someone.’ If you didn’t actually care, you wouldn’t be bothered by the idea of no one caring, and you wouldn’t be reading this post! Write for yourself, write the exact thing you most want, and there’s at least one person who will care, and it’s the most important person in your life: You!


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