We live in a world of sharing - and there’s a lot of good in that. We can share photos, videos, pieces of writing we’ve created, all with our friends and family. As a writer, I’ve been sucked into it all as well. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, you name it (yeah, I was even on MySpace too, but at least that was pre-Murdoch).
Now, I remember what it was like not to have a decent wi-fi connection. They were dark days, admittedly, but they generally involved something called a notebook - the Moleskin being the notebook of choice for the true literary hipster. That notebook, however, contained something else of importance: the pleasure of unpublished writing. Writing for myself, not even with the intention that the piece of text might one day make it into a novel. I never kept a diary - though this would probably qualify as the same sort of thing. I just liked to make observations, sketches; recording snippets of something overheard, completely out of context. I saw it as some form of literary exercise, as if writing itself was a muscle.
The important thing about those old pieces of writing was that they were not for publication. They were never intended to be seen by anyone other than me. And unlike a blog or Twitter, they’re not out there in the hope someone stumbles across them and ends up liking/following or whatever. There was something wonderful about reflecting, about investigating your own mind and basking in the self-indulgence of the creative muse.
Don’t get me wrong: the joys of being published far outweigh that, and I’m not even going to pretend otherwise. When you have an audience who want to read what you write, that’s incredible. But I miss writing privately, without the intention of publication. I don’t get the time so much now - my notes are all digitalized, somewhere in the Cloud waiting to be hacked by technically superior nations. Anyway, all of those notes are all destined - in theory - for the novels.
It seems slightly countercultural in an age where everyone likes to shove a piece of writing online, but I think more of us should write utterly for ourselves from time to time. Many of us tend to crave immediate feedback, want to know what other people thing. Blogs and social networks feed our egos.
But private writing is a whole different process. It’s self-indulgent, of course, but it’s more emotive and it’s a slightly rawer experience. Perhaps it is more honest and it simply means more, in many ways, to you - because it’s written by you for an audience of just you. It’s more expressive than public writing can ever be - it’s without an editor so you can afford to be as nonsensical as possible. In fact, a lot of what qualifies as bad writing can be done in private - but that’s okay - it’s for you. You might as well get the bad stuff out of your system when no one is looking.
So when thinking about what’s going on in our lives and, if we want to write about it, it’s worth considering the final destination for those thoughts. Is it worth firing out there in a rapid blog update. Or perhaps you might discover more about yourself in an intimate and considered piece of private writing, be that in your diary or even a writing journal app.
Why not talk to yourself from time to time? It really isn’t a sign of madness.
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The Book of Transformations and The Broken Isles by Mark Charan Newton are both out this month. Click HERE for other articles on Mark Newton or for some of Mark's 'public' writing!