Writing has always been my creative outlet for self-exploration and self-expression. Growing up, I would craft fantastical stories with nothing but my imagination. As a teenager, I poured my heart into pages and pages of diaries. As I got older, I intuitively used writing to explore and connect with my emotions.
But, at some point in life, I got hung up on what it meant to “be a writer”.
I studied creative writing and I bought into the idea that to be a writer I needed to deeply understand technique, use the perfect metaphor, and be able to poetically string together words on a whim.
I believed my own writing fell short in comparison to the works of others, so I eventually set aside my writing practice, also abandoning the creative freedom and expression it provided me up until that point.
The problem was my notion of being a writer was fundamentally flawed: I thought in order to write something valuable, I needed to write for other people.
I didn’t realize the immense value in writing for myself, and no one else.
Sure, if you want to be a published writer, you need to think about your audience and the benefits you can provide to them. But, published writer or not, writing is a readily available tool for self-exploration, discovery, and growth.
Writing for yourself promotes awareness, a deeper level of understanding, a way to offer yourself guidance and insight, and a release for emotions or experiences you may not even know you are holding onto.
Writing for yourself is an act of self-love and self-care — it’s recognizing your words, your truth, and your story have value in and of themselves. They’re worthy because you are worthy.
I intuitively understood the intrinsic value of writing when I was younger, but lost sight of this when I began to tie my identity to being a writer. After years of not writing anything beyond work emails, I found my way back to writing for me. I now see writing as a tool, not who I am, which allows me to just write, no strings attached.
When I write for myself, technique and expertise do not matter. (Heck, coherency doesn’t even really matter!) What matters is that I get my thoughts, emotions, and experiences out and onto the page.
If you’ve ever kept a journal you know it’s the act of writing that is most impactful, not necessarily the words that end up on the page.
I invite you to do the same, and just write. Write for yourself, because your words matter, especially when they’re just for you.