Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why I Write: To be liked

I've struggled with low self-esteem and still do, but to a lesser extent. One of the reasons I took up writing was to be liked for what I do rather than who I am.

Writing is something that people like. They generally respect or admire writers, particularly successful ones. So getting on the writing bandwagon seemed like a good way to get me some of that action.

There are at least three flaws with this plan.

First, writing can lead to respect and admiration. But that doesn't mean people will like me. Success doesn't bring personal connection - in fact it tends to distance people. Fans do not like the person they are fans of - they admire them. They place them at a different level to themselves. I don't have fans in this way, but I have seen this phenomenon in action, and have seen it's the person who is being admired who has to work to build a personal connection. It's actually kind of tiring!

But at least people are positive towards you though, which leads me to the second flaw.

Writing is always in danger of being judged negatively, particularly when you're starting out and maybe the work isn't all that good yet. Someone is not going to like what you've writtten, and particularly if they are a guy between 17 and 25 years of age there's a good chance they are going to tell you that, at the party at which you've just met them. Which doesn't really bolster a weak self-esteem.

The third flaw is probably the biggest, and the trap for the actual writing. If I write to be liked, this negatively influences what I write. I don't take risks. I avoid certain topics. I stick to the known in order to create a known effect. And the work is never as good.

Writing is not for the faint-hearted or for people with self-esteem issues. Writing has helped me with my self-esteem issues by forcing me to confront that I can't rely on external support to always feel good about myself. To be liked has transformed over time into To not rely on what others think of me. Which is all very positive but still not always the case!

1 comment:

dreadbeard said...

Writing: the road to popularity.

Um.

Though I guess it is good to be aware of the motivations, if only so they can be filtered out of the work later.