“Private pleasure is really just about your only guide for to how to write.”
That sentence was penned by former U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan in Contemporary American Poetry: Behind the Scenes, an anthology of poets writing about writing poems.
It’s spot on.
Lots of people write. At different times, and with different motivations. So nobody can tell you how you ought to write, or why, or what you can accomplish. Those are things that you have to find out for yourself.
That is why I named this series Write For You.
If there was a clear set of steps a person could follow for being “a writer,” anyone could simply look up the rules and, with utmost confidence, set to work. Instead there are a plethora of print and online resources, classes, coaches, methods and teachers, all of them saying, “Try this.”
Which is what you have to do. Try stuff.
It doesn’t matter what you try. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction truly are your best guides. Try something that seems like a good idea. All the while, notice what feels satisfying and dissatisfying.
When you feel satisfied, keep going.
When you feel dissatisfied, keep going.
Let your dissatisfaction push you forward, permit you to experiment, and inspire you to learn. Allow your satisfaction to encourage you and remind you what you are capable of. When work that once satisfied you becomes dissatisfying, you know that you’re growing.
You’ll have questions.
How do I evaluate my work? What if it’s terribly dissatisfying? Who is my audience? When should I show my work to other people? What if they don’t like it? Do I need a writing buddy? Should I spend money on a class, a retreat, or an editor? Should I belong to a writing group? How should I organize my time and my desk? Can I make money? What is publishing? What should I be reading? Why am I writing anyway?
Writers ask themselves questions like this all the time. The answers change.
Write For You is a series that offers specifics for using your personal sense of satisfaction to navigate the writing territory and find the region that belongs to you. I hope you will find ideas about writing that work for you and allow you to grow. That’s how you write the writing that is right for you.