#WriteLikeNoOneIsReading

ID-10052692 (books)If you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, allow me to answer you now:

No, I can’t believe I’m promoting a hashtag, either. More on that in a few…

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with elementary and middle school school classes about writing: what poetry is, how to write it, how to use one’s imagination to create, etc.

Depending on the grade and competency level of the classes, I tailor my presentations to fit the needs of the teachers and students. Sometimes the sessions tend to focus on questions/answers, while some are more hands-on, where we actually create poetry and get into the nuts and bolts of what poetry is all about.

But whether I’m sharing details of how I became a writer and voice artist in an informational setting or helping teachers (and students) with Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing 3, 4 & 5 – the three most apropos, in my estimation, for poetry – there is one common theme that always seems to be present.

The Fear of Creation

Some people relish the idea of making something out of nothing, and are eager to share their handiwork with the world. Others stop dead in their tracks when confronted with the task.

Most folks, I think, fall in-between; that is, the idea of creating is appealing, entertaining, or intriguing, but the act of actually sharing what they create gives them pause.

I’m here to tell you…it doesn’t matter.

Children, for example, tend to have tremendous imaginations, and when they are allowed to indulge those imaginations, all sorts of fun, crazy, wild things can happen. But even at a young age, not all kids want others to know what they are up to.

This puts a clamp on their burgeoning imagination.

What to do?

Create like no one cares

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At the Highlights Foundation in Boyd’s Mills, Pennsylvania, even the stones want you to create.

While I admit it’s nice to think that someone out there cares about what you have created, my point is that if you can create for the sake of creativity itself, you open yourself up to all kinds of possibilities.

No one thinks twice about the wisdom of “dancing like no one is watching” and feeling free and confident enough in yourself to let the music and rhythm of a song carry you away for a few minutes, with complete disregard for anyone who may see you. But what about the confidence needed to create a poem, story, or painting?

The fact is, you don’t need any confidence to create! True, you might need a whole lot of confidence to share what you’ve created with someone else – but that’s getting ahead of yourself. First and foremost, you need to create…then worry about whether or not it will see the light of day.

#WriteLikeNoOneIsReading

That is why I started this hashtag. I’ve used this phrase many times in helping people, especially kids, to realize they don’t need to share anything they create! And now that I find myself sharing more and more of what I create – via books, blogs, critique groups, and other venues – I think it’s important for aspiring writers (and all creators) to understand what’s really important in their development.

To create!

Write for yourself first – don’t write with an anticipation or expectation of trying to impress others. I know I’m not the first person in the world to make known this truth, but I would like to try to spread the message.

So over the next few days, weeks, months…if you happen to share some writing news either of yourself or someone you know via Facebook or Twitter, and you feel this hashtag is appropriate, please use it. I would love to see it begin trending, even for just a few hours, because that would encourage even more folks to investigate what the hashtag means and hopefully encourage more people to write – to create something out of nothing.

As I said before, one does not need confidence to create. One does not even need talent! However, one does need to start somewhere, and writing something no one will ever see – a journal entry, a poem, a story – is a good first step.

Sometimes, writing something no one will ever read can be cathartic, therapeutic, or even simply amusing.

And sometimes, just knowing that no one needs to see what you have written is all it takes to write something wonderful.

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8 thoughts on “#WriteLikeNoOneIsReading

  1. Sooooooooooo true! Thanks for sharing your liberating advice. It is freeing to #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading (p.s. On the flip side, after the writing, yours is sage advice then, too! ..or maybe a modified: #BeGladToWriteEvenWhenNoOneChoosesToRead) As off-putting as it can be to think sharing is a necessity, it can also be demoralizing to write knowing you wish to share, but the reality is that no one might choose to read what you’ve written.) God bless!

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    1. Great points! Thanks for sharing. While folks can become demoralized by not being able to share what one wishes to share, that’s a whole other step beyond…as a professional writer, I have to both a) write for myself AND b) write for my audience. It’s a balancing act i’m still working on, but it CAN be done!

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      1. Thanks so much for taking time to read/respond. As a graduate assistant, a big surprise for me was learning about “Writing as a process.” As a grammar/comp classroom, I had to shift the paradigm. No more could I tell students that they must write for their audience, but that they had to write for themselves, to know what they knew, thought, and felt, AND, as you said, if the writing was to be shared, to be respectful and cognizant of the intended audience. Yes! It is a balancing act. .. God bless you for dignifying my writer-who-wants-to-share-with-audiences-who-don’t want-to-read feelings of inadequacy and frustration:)

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  2. Love this post, Matt. When I work with students, I always assure them they will not be required to share anything they don’t want to–but I’m always amazed at how many are eager to share. I NEVER would have willingly shared poetry I wrote (or anything else, probably) when I was a kid! Now I share crummy first drafts all the time, and it’s very freeing:>)

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    1. Thanks, Laura…I’m glad you & others share my thoughts on this. I think more of us would be willing to share (like those eager students you mentioned), but we are afraid of reactions. So the best way to counter that is to simply not worry about reactions, yes? And even though I rarely let anyone – even my wife – see my first drafts, I’m usually much more open to sharing 2nd drafts, because at least they’ve been edited a bit! (The exception is poetry prompts like yours, where it’s all about being quick and concise – which I like!)

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  3. Pingback: Poetry Friday: An excerpt from “Dear Tomato” | Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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