Write for yourself and nobody else.

That man outside Espresso Royale sitting, staring, having a conversation with himself or possibly someone he once knew who he hasn’t seen in years. I could write about him, but how? What do I want to say, why is it that he catches my attention? Next… Oh wow, that couple I just had to ring up at work had an interesting dynamic. The girl bossed her boyfriend around after buying a $140 sweatshirt. “Don’t pull of that tag, it will rip a hole in the shirt?! I told you not to do that.” These small occurrences throughout my day add up, I want to write about them all. There are so many ideas, so many thoughts, so many details that would make a beautiful story. But who would that story reach? Why would I take the time to write it if it’s just for me? 

From all of this, I would say that a difficulty I am having when approaching this project is writing. I haven’t always has this problem, but lately I am so overwhelmed with second guessing my writing that I don’t even write. Writing is not the problem though. As is normally the case with minds, my mind is creating a problem out of nothing. In order to solve this problem, I tried to recall the last time I found peace in writing. 

When I travel I find writing enjoyable and inspiring, as writing should be. Being in a new place makes writing enchanting and important again. When traveling, I am motivated and inspired to write because I always think to myself, “what if I never come back here? How will I remember all the incredible people I met if I don’t write about them?” My most recent trip to Scandinavia left me with a journal full of lifelike descriptions of people. Rolf, the rotund Norwegian sailor who loved Elton John and whose eyes disappeared when he laughed. Martin, the petite French man who loved singing songs off the Juno soundtrack and who referred to himself as the “little chief”.

The writing I do while traveling is special to me because it allows me to go back in time and relive my international experiences. By reflecting on how much I enjoy writing when I travel, I realized that I don’t have to be overseas to write in a similar way. The man outside Espresso Royale is just as interesting to me as my French friend Martin. The couples I ring up at my job have just as much to offer to my writing as any couple I have seen or overheard walking in Norway. There is a story in everything, as cheesy as that sounds, and my travel journals are proof to me that my writing does matter to someone, even if that someone is myself.  

This realization has given me more confidence moving forward with my project. I plan to making reminding myself how much I enjoy writing when I travel part of my writing ritual. When I start questioning why I write, or who I am writing for, I will pause and remind myself that I don’t have to be out of the country for my writing to be interesting.

4 thoughts to “Write for yourself and nobody else.”

  1. I can definitely relate to your problem of second guessing your writing and created problems that aren’t there. I wrote about something similar. My issue is the amount of things that go through my head daily that distract me from the main purpose of a piece I am working on. I think it is important to try as hard as you can to stay confident in what you are writing so that when that moment of doubt comes, it is easier to overcome. I also find it interesting how you feel like you are only inspired to write when you are somewhere unique and traveling. For me when I am traveling I would rather just relax and enjoy my time as a vacation rather than having to go back and write about what happened to me on a particular day. However, I do see your point about writing these events down so that you can always go back and read about your adventure and not forget any part of it.

  2. I really enjoyed how you articulated your writing problem, and the realization it takes to overcome it. I remember a comedian who I was listening to said (paraphrasing) “You only own 50% of all the work you do, and everyone else owns the other 50%” As much as we can try to appease others and write what we think is universally/objectively good work, we ultimately can’t dictate how it will be interpreted. So what is the point of keeping anyone but yourself in mind? I think this is a powerful mentality to work towards, and I am looking forward to seeing what “writing for yourself” will look like.

  3. Ingrid, I find your post extremely relatable.

    I love writing while I am traveling – this is what I did for my gateway project! I find every person, meal, scene, etc. full of vivid details that seem to be utterly inspiring. It seems easy to write with these kinds of details in your head.

    It can seem frustrating to return to normal life and have to write with the same passion and creativity that you once had while in a new place. But, it seems as though you have the right idea about maintaining a positive and hopeful scope throughout this process. Any instance — from the man outside of Espresso to the overheard conversations — can serve as a powerful inspiration.

    I find that it helps to just get the words out. Pour your ideas on the page and write for yourself. If you then find that you want to open up your audience, a few revisions can take you there! Don’t feel pressured to know exactly what you’re writing, who you’re writing it for, and why you’re doing it in the first place. Let your creativity come to the forefront and see what works!

  4. Ingrid, I am completely with you on this topic! There are so many things — sometimes random, sometimes not — that easily catch my attention on a daily basis, but I would just have no idea how to covey that through writing (or sometimes why it even matters in the first place?)

    This might not be the best suggestion, but maybe a way to help you write about things like the man in front of Espresso or the couple at work would be to think of these things as small trips? If traveling helps give you motivation to write, then maybe thinking of things like going to class as small trips around Ann Arbor will help you find your words a little easier. Or, maybe considering things you find interesting at work a part of a bigger picture — if you’re saving up to go on another trip, every little event or thing that catches your eye at work is a part of the experience because they’re helping you get there?

    They’re not exactly ‘international’ trips and I’m not really sure if that helps you at all, but either way, can’t wait to read some of your travel writing this semester! 🙂

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