Writing to Understand Yourself

By Stuart Gardner

Writing for me has always been a somewhat selfish venture. Basically, as soon as I was introduced to creative writing I saw its potential as a therapeutic outlet for all kinds of emotion. Writing became my way of working through difficult situations. For whatever reason, it’s much easier to understand things happening to characters as opposed to myself. As a result, much of my early writing was never really meant to be read by anyone other than myself. Even now that I’ve grown more confident in my abilities I still feel self-conscious asking anyone to read my writing. This lack of confidence in my writing always led me to assume that my work was lacking the creative spark of inspiration that powers truly great writing.

It wasn’t until very recently that I realized that good writing is much more the product of hard work than it is inspiration. No matter how brilliant the idea, every author hits a stage where they start to get sick of writing a story. When this happened to me I used to assume it meant that my ideas weren’t strong enough to carry themselves to the finish line of a full short story.

I don’t have much to offer in terms of writing advice but I do know this: don’t stop writing just because you don’t think the final product will be perfect. Perfectionism has its place once the story is finished but before then the best thing for both writer and story is to keep plugging away. While continually pouring effort into a story that you don’t feel will be your best work can be taxing, the reward of finishing is more than worth it.

Writing is one of the most effective ways to take a look inside your head and decipher what exactly is going on there. For a young writer this can, at times, be intimidating (no one wants to discover something they don’t like about themselves) and can result in a lot of frustration. My method of dealing with this was to stop focusing on the message behind my writing and instead focus on creating an interesting story first and foremost. No matter how hard you try it is always going to be difficult to get everyone to interpret what you write the same way as you do, and when people don’t understand your writing it can feel like it’s a reflection of you. You can’t make everyone understand everything in your story but you can still attempt to make everyone enjoy it.

About Stuart

Stuart Gardner is an Alberta-born university student and creative writer. During his free time, he likes to hike, play basketball, and read.

Challenge 4: Explore your own writing.

Write something that’s unlike anything you’ve written before. If you haven’t written a poem yet, write a poem. If you haven’t written a short story, or a song, or a stand-up comedy routine, write one. If you haven’t written a piece set in Victorian England or 1950s America, write one now.

Take this opportunity to push the limits of your writing and explore something you’ve never done before. Don’t worry about whether your writing is any good, or what someone would think about if they read it. Write to find out what it’s like to play in that particular sandbox. Write to learn about the ins and outs of something that you’re certainly aware about from a distance, but have yet to get up close and personal with.

Let us know what you thought of the blog and challenge in the comments below and on our Facebook page!

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