Writing Is An Intimate Experience

Want an interesting exercise? Go Google your favorite writers’ writing advice. Different people have different things to say about writing itself, and while writing advice (and why you should write) can be given by anyone, from your closest friend to your teacher, it’s like there’s prestige when the piece of advice comes from a famous best-selling author. Here are a few choice cuts from writers:

Stephen King:

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

Jeanette Winterson:

“I believe that we are all part of the creative continuum, but I am sure that there are different doses and dilutions of creativity. We are not all the same and we do not have the same aptitudes or talents. I can’t make you a writer. “

Neil Gaiman:

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

Jack Kerouac:

“Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy”

All are writers who have, in some way or another, made waves in the literary scene. The quotes that have been picked here (and with them come the links of the articles from which I’ve lifted them) all, in essence, echo the idea of writing as an individual experience. Jeanette Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Written On the Body) says it best, I think: “I can’t make you a writer.” The implication springs from there: writing is an individual experience, intimate in nature and rooted in the self. Sure, you can show what you’re written to your friends and family, your teachers, and sure you may get the chance of getting published (and maybe selling a lot), and certainly editors will chip and pick away details here and there, and certainly critics will find cracks in your work and pry them open. But while the point is not to invalidate valuable input from readers of all sorts, what they are reading is what you have written, which means that the essence of the written work is your own, though you may have been influenced by other writers, in one way or another. Just as Winterson “can’t make you a writer,” no one can write what you need to write, in the way that you want something to be written.

The immediacy and the intimacy coming from the act of writing cannot be replicated by merely reading someone else’s work, or copying someone else’s writing. The absence of firsthand sentiment is too obvious and too strong, and instead of penning down your own thoughts, you find yourself agreeing with what has already been said. Writing is an intimate experience because it allows you to talk to yourself, in that you’re given the opportunity to articulate thoughts and challenge yourself in as effective a manner as you can possibly touch. Writing is, anyway, an act of creation. It starts out messy and difficult, but the more you write, and the more you realize how intimate you can be with your written word, the easier (hopefully) everything pans out, and the more comfortable you can get with your thought process.

In the end, it’s fair to say that you should write when you need to write, and write whatever you need to write. Everything else comes in second, because, even if you’re not absolutely conscious of it, you’re writing firstly for yourself.


Jillian is an English Literature graduate who loves reading science fiction and fantasy, and is a big fan of J.G. Ballard. She is obsessed with coffee, video games, and rottweilers, and keeps herself busy by writing and walking around a lot. She's currently reading Jeanette Winterson and a lot of YA literature.

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