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The Benefits of Writing for Yourself

Writers are often told to “identify their audience,” in other words, who they want to read and connect with their work. But sometimes we forget that we are also part of our work’s audience. In fact, we’re usually the ones reading it the most. There is a lot of pressure to write for a large audience, which often leads to procrastination and stifled creativity. Trying to write in a way that pleases everyone can be draining; it’s almost an impossible task. How would your work and productivity change if you chose to write for yourself?

Writing for yourself

The best place to start is to figure out what you want to write—what you enjoy writing about. You might think about what you like to read. What genres are you drawn to? What types of characters do you find most compelling? Now think about what might be lacking from those stories. Do you love fantasy, but wish there were more diverse characters? Or maybe you love historical fiction, but wish there were more stories exploring the LGBTQ rights movement in the 60s, or about the female spies in the Cold War? Write into these empty pockets of the literary world when you find them, even if it’s only for your own enjoyment. You might find that others are just as interested in your work as you are.

You can also try to write for a younger version of yourself. What kinds of stories do you wish were available for your younger self to read? If you like writing Kid’s Lit or YA, this can be particularly helpful to think about. Writing for yourself can be healing and restorative, but who says it’s just for who you are now? The child inside you will appreciate any care you give them, even retroactively.

Benefits of journaling

Journaling is writing that is truly for yourself. We don’t intend for our journals to be seen by anyone’s eyes other than our own. It’s where we put our most intimate thoughts and reflect on ourselves and the world. It can also be a generative starting point for your creative work.

Self-reflection is important for everyone, but especially writers. Take some time to think about what kinds of stories you’re writing. Here are some prompts to help you get started:

  • What types of characters are you most drawn to writing about? What types are less present in your work?

  • Where are your stories usually set?

  • What are some common themes present in your work?

  • What’s something you want to include more of in your work? (A specific setting, character type, point of view or narrative structure, etc.)

Understanding your own creative practice can lead to the exploration of deeper meanings in your work. You can also think about your writing process and goals:

  • When do you usually find yourself writing? Do you have a schedule, or do you write when you’re in the right mood?

  • Do you work best in a quiet, empty room or a lively public space like a park or cafe?

  • Do you work best with a deadline or concrete goal in mind?

Some of our best work comes from a place of personal experience, and taking the time to reflect can help you better understand your own ideas and influences. To put forth meaningful ideas in our writing, we have to be familiar with them, and that starts with writing for yourself. Allow yourself to meditate on these questions to develop a deeper understanding of your own writing—you might be surprised with what you discover.


About the author: Lindsey is currently working towards her BA in English and Creative Writing at Brandeis University. She loves writing short stories and has more recently taken an interest in writing poetry. She is also an Editor-in-Chief for her school literary magazine, Laurel Moon. You can usually find her reading, crocheting, or bothering her cat, Sister. She hopes to be a writer and an editor in the future to continue to help others improve their work.


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George Hart
George Hart
Dec 07, 2023

To be honest I didn't know it could be so useful. I'll be sure to practice. After I write my personal statement. Or I'll have write one for me. Because due to my poor writing skills, I'm not sure I'll write it properly.


Karen Kinley
Karen Kinley
Dec 06, 2022

Thank you so much for this post. I am in a bad place right now with my writing. I'm getting to a point that I feel like I should stop. It's too hard. It's too time-consuming. It's too deflating to my ego. Except that...I really, really love writing. So the thought of dropping all the self-imposed "rules" and just allowing myself to write for ME is a refreshing idea! Thank you for reminding me of that!

Theresa Green
Theresa Green
Dec 09, 2022
Replying to

I've been seeing a lot of this in other writers lately and definitely feeling a bit defeated myself. It's exhausting trying to make time for this thing we love so much. I believe writing is putting the soul on paper and to carve out a piece of the soul every time we write is just... ouch! It's a lot to go through. You're not alone.

I love this post so much and @Lindsey Odorizzi is absolutely amazing.

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