Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)

As a little girl, I dreamed of being a writer like Anne of Green Gables and Jo from Little Women, but I have been reluctant to write for the following reasons:

1. What if I write and no one reads it, or worse, they read it and hate it?
2. I’d rather live my life than write about my life.
3. Blogging is narcissistic (someone told me that once)–why would I want people to think I only want to talk about myself?
4. I don’t have time.
5. It’s all already been said before, probably much more eloquently than I could ever say it.

As I joined over 1,000 writers over the past month in the challenge to write for 31 days, I have done battle with the above demons that whispered to me that I was wasting my time.  Here is how I have sought to slay them: 

1. What if I write and no one reads it, or worse, they read it and hate it?

Adah in The Poisonwood Bible puts her writing compulsion in this way:  “I go home by myself and write poems at my kitchen table…all the noise in my brain.  I clamp it to the page so it will be still” (p. 532). 

I have always called my journal my personal counselor.  Writing in and of itself is therapy to me, though until now it has always been private.  But the past month of writing about my journey back home after living in China has been a healing process and has brought me closure on many levels. 

I have had to stop worrying about an audience and just write for myself and out of obedience to God.  It has been my way of working out what God is working in me (Phil. 2:12-13). 

And as for the fear that what I’m writing is terrible? The way I’ve comforted myself in that regard is to remember that I can still grow, improve and deepen as a writer. 

Just as I may have to take 1,000 digital pictures to get one good shot, I may need to write 1,000 posts to have one that could be considered outstanding. 

Writing is a process, a journey.

2. I’d rather live my life than write about my life.

I’ve always been afraid that writing would take time out of living itself, but now I know that it enhances and adds to life rather than subtracting from it.  Now, I approach my days with anticipation, searching for meaning and beauty to share with others instead of allowing those moments to sneak by without comment. 

Writing is changing my perspective on living.

3. Blogging is narcissistic (someone told me that once)–why would I want people to think I only want to talk about myself?

All art is narcissistic.  Writers believe they have something to communicate that should be shared.  One of the writers this month mentioned that she has to remember that she may be writing for “just one”–just one person that may need to read that message that day.  In this way, writing is not narcissistic, but self-giving. 

The first time I shared a post publicly on Facebook, I felt like I was standing naked in a crowded room for others to snicker at and criticize.  But what if one person was encouraged by seeing my flaws?  Maybe they, too, have a dimple or a blemish in a similar spot and finally stopped feeling so alone?  In this way, writing is selfless. 

Writing is being naked. 

If you are doing it right, the clothes come off and you are left standing completely exposed and vulnerable.  It can be terrifying. But it can also be liberating. 

Like with a lover, the first time the clothes come off is the hardest, but soon you may even begin to experience the freedom from shame that comes from being loved in spite of–or even because of–your nakedness.

So, no, writing is not narcissistic.

If the writer steps into the light of complete vulnerability and shares his or her story so that others might also be freed from shame, writing is a sacrificial and selfless act.

4. I don’t have time.

We always have enough time to do what we prioritize.  I am a runner, so this has forced me to treat my time like a puzzle at times in order to keep running.  It, like writing, may mean early mornings, late nights, a dirty house, left-overs or take-out, creativity in scheduling and less time for personal hygiene (just kidding…kind of).  And if it is truly a calling, it will become strangely addicting, so you may find yourself trying to sneak in even more writing than you had planned. 

5. It’s all already been said before, probably much more eloquently than I could ever say it.

One of my favorite books on art is Walking on Water, by Madeleine L’Engle.  In it, she says “If the work comes to the artist and says, ‘Here I am, serve me,’ then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve.  The amount of the artist’s talent is not what it is about.  Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review, ‘Listen to me.  All of writing is a huge lake.  There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.  And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys.  All that matters is feeding the lake.  I don’t matter.  The lake matters.  You must keep feeding the lake'” (p. 23).

Feed the lake. 

Never before has the cliché “You have to start somewhere” meant more to me than it has in the past month.  My contribution to The Lake might only be a small thimble of water.  That is not my concern.  I am called to be faithful to pour out what God has poured into me as an offering to Him and Him alone (Col. 3:23).  I am to “serve the work.”

At the beginning of the challenge, the organizer, Crystal Stine, reminded us that it wasn’t important to pick a topic that had never been written about before, because most likely it had been.  Instead, I was to pick a topic that I cared about because though someone may have written about it, I have never written about it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the first step in calling is willingness. 

Am I willing to take a risk and write?

Runners run, bikers bike, climbers climb, writers write.  I have never called myself a writer before, but I think I may have just convinced myself that I am, in fact, a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a WRITER.

I AM a writer.

…and the last garment falls to the floor.

How have you “fed the lake” in the last month? If you are a writer, would you add any other reasons to this list?

Linking up with: Literacy Musing Mondays
and Crystal Stine

Photo: www.pixabay.com and www.canva.com

6 Replies to “Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)”

  1. i've thought all of these things and also have had to work at not dismissing my writing as wasteful. i' right behind you at Crystal Stine's link up and wanted to slip in and say YAY-you did it! the link didn't work quite right but i was able to figure it out and still find your post. thanks for these words, especially the ones about feeding the lake. that is mighty encouraging!

  2. I so relate to all of these and the way that you are overcoming those doubts. I wrote a post last week on why I write and coming to the point of calling myself a writer too. I think there are several of us who have come to that point thanks to Write 31 Days!

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