When was the last time you wrote something really self-indulgent?

I’ve written three novels. All three I wrote with the intention of one day being able to publish. But prior to that, before writing became something serious, I used to write whatever I liked. I used to write for me. And maybe it was awful and sappy and usually a reflection of whatever I was feeling at the time… but something in me really wants to do that again. I want to write something just for me, with no pressure of the word “agent” or “publishing” over my head. I just want to churn out a novel that is everything that I want it to be. And then it will get lost somewhere on my hard drive and never see the light of day.

When was the last time you wrote something just for you? Something you had no intention of revealing to the world? And what stops you from doing it? Because it does have that sensation of wasting time doesn’t it?


About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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49 Responses to When was the last time you wrote something really self-indulgent?

  1. HI, I’m not a “writer” so pardon my inexperience. I’m just wondering if it’s possible to write what you want while trying to keep an audience in mind? Or, write so that it’s something you love to write about but keeping in mind during the process that you have to keep a commercial value in mind, aka a structure or something like that. Not saying you don’t, but just wondering if that is in fact your process or not. Or do you write what you think others are interested in reading?

    Liked by 2 people

    • jodiellewellyn says:

      I definitely think you can write what you want to write with an audience in mind. Especially when you have a really amazing idea that you are passionate about. When you’re writing with publishing in mind you have to ensure the plot works, the characters work, the editing is complete.
      Writing self indulgently is removing all of that from your mind and just writing to see what comes out.
      To me, anyway.
      If that makes any sense.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Kassie22 says:

    I recently found that I had to literally stop all aspiring to write something solely “to publish” and just write what I love. I actually have to do a couple of short stories for my senior thesis and I struggled trying to think of something that my professors would like to read and be proud of…. it was an awful mindset. Turning off the pressure of making it perfect (one of my writing demons is perfectionism) and the fact that other people would be reading it was the best thing for my creative juices. But that’s just me! It is good to be writing “just because” again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rebekah D. Cook says:

    Self-indulgent writing is a big part of why I do NaNoWriMo every year. The other eleven months of the year, I focus on more serious writing, but November is my time to go crazy with psychic cat burglars, pastafarian mafiosos, space pirate political allegories, and whatever other ridiculous characters pop into my head. Every once in a while, I’ll end up with a spark of something in there I want to develop into something for public consumption (my current novel-in-progress is loosely based on a premise I played with for NaNo several years ago), but mostly it’s just stuff that pleases me to write and that no one else will ever see.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always write things for myself, with no publishing agenda. This is what my Star Wars roleplaying pastime is for.It does wonders to my muse and also gives me new tips to develop characters in my original fiction, as well as paths to explore in my academic projects.

    At the same time, I feel that all my work, including published pieces, are self indulgent, because editing, structure, plot, characters are always essential, regardless whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. I don’t know whether this is the perfectionist in me!

    I couldn’t write anything I am not profoundly passionate about. I need to feel the want and need to research and write. I once tried to write pieces that were more formatted so to speak, but I didn’t like the result as much and I realize that even if it can take a while, pieces I write with brain and heart, get published. It is important for me to stay true to myself, even if it diminishes possible publications options. It means I have to be more persistent and patient, but so far it has always been worth it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. MishaBurnett says:

    I do write–and publish–entirely self-indulgent books. Granted, I don’t sell a lot of them, but what I write is pure and simply what I would like to read.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Thanks for liking my post. 🙂 I am not a writer, unlike my husband, but I do always encourage him (and all other writers) to write what he wants to write unless someone is paying him A LOT of money to do otherwise. As a librarian I know for every book there is a reader. As a quilter, I sometimes play with fabrics with no pattern or project in mind, just play to play. Sometimes it turns into a quilted project I can sell or give as a gift, and sometimes not. Kind of like the type of writing you refer to. I think all artists do something like that, either to find inspiration, to experiment, or to just take a break from what they normally do. I certainly would never consider it a waste of time!!


  7. trentpmcd says:

    Pretty much all of the short fiction I put up on my blog is just something that comes to mind and written just for fun. Yes, I do “publish” it here on WP, but when I’m writing it, it’s just for me. I post a new story almost every Friday and they’re often ideas at get at 2 PM Friday afternoon.


  8. Anne B. Cole says:

    Love your blog post!
    I wrote my first novel, Souls Entwined for myself…I arrived “bookless” at an all day swim meet and was faced with sitting for hours waiting to watch my kids swim a handful of minute long races scattered through the day. I had two great books to read and LEFT THEM AT HOME…UGH!
    All I had was a pen and the packet of heat sheets that I bought to see when my kids were going to swim. I flipped the heat sheets over and outlined a story that had everything in it that I liked…time travel, action, adventure, pirates, spirits, curses….anything and everything that came into my mind went on the paper. Three years (and a bunch of edits) later my book was published.
    I truly feel when people write from the heart…great things are possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Diana S. says:

    Short stories and flash fiction are just for me when I need a break. Sometimes I reread them for a good laugh. Great post.


  10. wildbilbo says:

    I’m still beginning this, and as a beginner *everything* feels self-indulgent.

    But that could be why I’m enjoying it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Such an interesting post! I loved it!


  12. wlloydjr says:

    I just wrote a blog like this too lol except the reasons why I don’t do traditional publishing. Honestly, if you want to write what you value and care about then do it. I know of a few people who went traditional and feel trapped sometimes because their ideas don’t always make it into the finished product. I enjoy the freedom to write what I want. I do keep an audience in mind but sometimes I like to exceed the boundaries.


    • I agree about traditional publishing! I didn’t want publishers dictating to me, saying I couldn’t publish because two characters had names that started with the same letter or that focusing more on the plot and less on the sex was a mistake. I recently self-published, and I love it. Even if it never takes off, I’ll be happy just having a book out there that’s all mine 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • wlloydjr says:

        Yeah, I mean I self published mine back in match bit I have had fantastic feedback. I know it’s a pain with the financial side when it comes to promotion and marketing but as time goes on it’s gotten a lot better. I was nervous about coming out about it though until I talked to other authors that went in the same direction. Now I’m proud of the decision. Congrats! 🙂


  13. ChristineR says:

    If I can ever claim to finish a novel, it’ll be self-indulgent, for sure. 😀


  14. 50djohnson says:

    When I enjoy writing and I really get lost in it, I don’t think it’s self-indulgent or wasting time. I think it’s necessary, like getting a manicure and pedicure !!! To some indulgent, to me necessary for happiness! 🙂


  15. And that my friends, is why I self publish. Not so I can churn out mindless drivel that does not adhere to the rules of the craft but because I wanted to write what was in my heart versus what I thought would sell. Consequently, I’m not making a living from my writing (yet) but I LOVE every word I’ve published and proudly market it directly to readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Crystal Barnes says:

    Of this things I written, I have written without thought of how it would be marketed, although I intend to have them published. I guess with that in mind, I will have to spend time thinking about what category or “genre” to place them in, but in the end, I think every writer should write for themselves whether they plan to publish their work or not, because I believe that is where their best work will lie.


  17. I always write for myself, even when writing school assignments. If it’s not written with my voice, it reads as soulless. If I don’t want to write it, it’s going to show. I’ve published my first novel in the hopes that people will like it, but if they don’t I’m still proud of it. I would rather write what I want and have 3 people tell me they love it than write something forced that will make me a best-selling author.


  18. Eliza says:

    Is there anything more self-indulgent than these WordPress Community chain-mail games? In the spirit of self-indulgence, I’ve tagged you in Bookshelf Tag. If you feel like participating you can check it out at http://elizaworner.com


  19. laurenlola says:

    Probably my journal, and the reason why I would never want to publish any of its contents is because there are some things that I’m just not willing to expose to the world.


  20. I stopped writing fanfiction, but I remember reading you wrote fanfic for a bit too. Perhaps write some short stories for a fandom you enjoy? I’ll never write a fanfic novel again because I write so slowly I would never get any original fiction done. But I might write fanfic in the future for fun 🙂


  21. Lace Winter says:

    Ha, I think self-indulgent writing produces the most creative output, even though it maybe needs revision later to be publishable. Like Rebekah, I found a release in the “churn it out” of Nano, writing something that I thought was pure “practice” and would go no further, and I tried for months after to do something different, more highly structured, before finally chucking it and going back to my Nano novel, which I am now revising with an audience in mind.

    So, yeah, I’m a fan of forgetting the audience during the first draft, but remembering them for the second. In fact, it’s best to assume there won’t be a second draft while writing that indulgent first, and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a real spark of brilliance that, upon later reading, simply demands polishing into a true work of art.

    I’m still polishing, though. A lot. Still looking for that diamond hidden under the lump of coal.


  22. bklynboy59 says:

    I am in my dreams a writer. In my dreams …which is why I write a blog to test the wayers so to speak. But whether one person reads what I write or buys one book to me I am successful because it is what I did, writing.When you go to sleep and see words or think about what to write it is that, process that makes you a writer not whether it is published or not.


  23. I’m a very selfish person. I write for myself first, every time. Because, the thing is. It’s my story i’m writing, my time, my obsession. Make yourself happy and write the story in your head, you won’t be sorry.


  24. jmisho says:

    now imagine if you could publish that self-indulgent thing 🙂


  25. Magenta says:

    Most of what I write comes in to my head in the dark hours of the night, when sleep is illusive. To write a book, would be a dream, to find the subject matter that would ebb and flow as a story should, I am not sure I can. There is a lot that I write but is to personal to publish in the public arena. Stories that tell the world more about me than I am prepared to share. Great post Jodie.


  26. cup112278 says:

    Great post! I think the core of this conversation is determining your goal and audience for your writing. Sometimes we just need that personal writing time where the goal is to express your emotions and your audience is yourself or whoever cares to listen, not someone looking to make money off of your writing. 🙂


  27. blondeusk says:

    I love your posts!! You always seem to say what I want to hear. Everything I write is self indulgent. I don’t seem to care what other people want to read and this does worries me. I enjoy writing stuff for me – is that bad?


  28. kimberly b. says:

    Love this. Don’t have a ton of extra time between kids and a 9-5 job, so I’m constantly torn. For me, I’m trying to re-work it so that I’m only writing what I love and am feeling at the moment. I tried to make it my “job” for a little while, and I feel like it sucked the life out of me and took the fun out of it. I was only writing articles and some copy, but I’ve since vowed to stick with a different job that I really enjoy and only write for fun. It’s still hard because if you write even short things for publish, you get some recognition and build a following, right? Followings are such an important factor. I don’t know – there are so many factors. Please excuse my morning ramblings =) Glad to know that even published novelists are torn.


  29. Good question. As for me, I try to incorporate a little of the self-indulgent into everything I write. It doesn’t have to be much. Just something that smacks of me. I feel it makes things more engaging.

    And for really self-indulgent, that is my personal journal. That drivel is for me alone. Nobody should be subjected to that nonsense!

    Thanks for sharing! Very thought provoking.


  30. B. M. Wells says:

    yea basically everything i write is for me, with two motivations. First it helps me clarify my thoughts and once written, takes them out of my looping thought pattern. Second, it makes me feel better knowing there’s a piece of me out there that will likely survive me.

    tim kreider and david sedaris, essayists/short-storyists are well-known for writing purely personal reflections. and while i assume your post was aimed more at writing fiction, its all the same at some point, right?


  31. T.K. says:

    Great post! I think most of my writing is “self-indulging,” and so is some of my best. This is probably because the best writing comes from the honest-est of hearts, and most of my “self-indulgent” writing IS expression of my most honest feelings. Unfortunately, I don’t have the “bravery” to turn these pieces into something I could show to the public. Because they’re so personal, truthful, and probably relate to a person I know in real life.

    That being said, writing stuff that’s not meant to be shown is better than not writing at all. When I feel like I really have to write something down, something that will never be read by eyes other than my own, I still write it. It’s writing for the sake of writing!


  32. shadus713 says:

    I do quite often. I’ve got to get all this stuff out of my brainpan and a fair amount of it will probably never see the light of day. It’s the only way I know how. Self therapy I suppose, it sure as hell is a cheap route! Plus a small bit of the whole is merely venting. I stab the words down sometimes. And I feel better for it. But no one wants to read all that nonsense, I rarely go back and read it myself. Thinking about it now, when I move on to the next life, my sons will be left my notebooks. And krikey, I cannot even imagine what they’ll think of their ol’Pops then!


  33. Khatim Abbas says:

    I agree. I was drawn to your wonderful blog through a precious “like” from you to one of my postings that was written solely for me and few others, actually. You liking proves that it works!

    Many thanks for dropping by & keep it up! Cheers!


  34. Zed says:

    I think publishing for others and writing for ourselves is always mixed up in whatever we write….but blogs are more about ourselves….well mine is, I guess. I just deleted my old blog full of very confused recordings of the emotional journey of last year because that is not quite me anymore. I did love some of it, especially the intense poetry from last year (but I hated almost every poem I wrote this year….a sure sign things are getting out of shape). So I think we write for audiences and ourselves, but the balance shifts at times. I guess my new blog will be a bit more evenly balanced like that….but because it is less dramatic, I suspect its audience will be smaller. So, I guess my answer is that it depends what you are trying to do….to express your way in to a space that is for you, and about yourself with it bouncing off other people….or if you really are trying to reach out to where the other people are -that is about them, more you sharing things you know. Both things are about you and an audience…but they are pretty different because the balance differs each time.


  35. You have been nominated for One Lovely Blog Award. I hope you don’t mind. Please do not feel pressured to participate. I just want to promote a few blogs that I feel others would adore as much as I do. If you’d like to pay it forward, you can check out the rules at http://adjustingyourfocus.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/how-rewarding/


  36. What is “serious” writing if you cannot be true to yourself?


  37. Rachel says:

    I write in a journal that ranges from what’s going on in my life to story ideas to actual stories. That is for myself. Everything else l write, the writing l post on my blog, or the six manuscripts l plan on publishing, is all for me. I write because l have something to share with the world. so, whether l keep it to myself, l plan on publishing it, or publish it on my blog, l still do it for me.

    Yet, l do know exactly what you mean with that “wasting time” feeling. l haven’t written fan fictionin a long time because of that feeling.


  38. Cat Amesbury says:

    I guess that my hope with writing is that my “self-indulgent” ideas (i.e. the ones that I want to read, but seem very difficult to find) are ones that other people are also looking to read. I think writing things that I am enthusiastic about that still have an audience of people who also enjoy them is a good balance between the self-indulgent and the practical.


  39. I don’t know what it is about writing about what’s going on in your life, but that’s really the way I go when I do. It’s all muddled and clumsy sounding, right? What on earth is it like, writing to a type, or to a goal? How different is the pressure of knowing that you want this one piece of writing to soar?


  40. austriaal says:

    ALL my blog posts are self-indulgent. I’m surprised anyone reads them o.O


  41. nandita1983 says:

    I love writing when I feel it . When I have so many thoughts in my mind that I feel like putting them together . I write for myself !!


  42. fireflyin says:

    Geez. The last time? I cannot remember. I think it’s been a couple years. Yeah, ever since I decided to “get serious” about making writing a career, I sort of adopted this attitude of “don’t got time to write for fun.” Well, okay, maybe that’s a tad severe and inappropriate, but I can’t seem to bring myself to do it when I’m so keenly devoted on avoiding all forms of potential distraction.
    Except video games. I’ll totally make time for video games. 🙂


  43. A great post! I normally write a serious blog on a subject I’m passionate about, but I started any entirely different blog where I write whatever i want, poems, short scenes, vignettes etc. It’s great refreshing to go from one to the other! Also I have to say I’m impressed with anyone that wrote wrote a book, keep it up!


  44. *bit of editing needed there!


  45. Doug Herko says:

    Everything I’ve written so far is self-indulgent. It’s my therapy, basically. Some characters I come up with are mirror images of myself- some are people I wish I could be- most are based off characters in my own life. My poems are about my own experiences. Even when I write about a cause bigger than myself – as in gender roles, gay rights, etc, it’s still based off my life because I’ve experienced those things first hand, you know? I’m not published and I’m not sure I ever will be, but for the time being, I’m the center of my writing and it’s really the only way I know how to write.


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