Are you attached to your writing?

You know how it is. There’s this incredible idea (at least to you) germinating somewhere deep within and you can’t wait to put it down, write it up on the blog, publish it, send it to be seen by an editor- something, anything that tells you that the story deserves to be seen, read or heard.

Attachment to your writing is probably inevitable. After all, it’s part of you and the way you think, feel and breathe, most of the time.ย But in the age of social media and instant gratification, are we too attached to what we write?

Attached to your writing

Think about it. Are you ever completely, absolutely detached from the outcome of your writing? Have you honestly sent something off to be published or pitched a piece or an article to a magazine and thought, ‘Hey, it’s cool if I never hear from them?’

Remember my #NaNoWriMo experience or rather the aftermath? So it’s been 7 months since that and yes, although I’ve had many excuses (valid ones) for not finishing the work just yet, I also feel there’s something bigger at play here: I am too attached to the work.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a memoir. Personal stories are among the hardest to write, in my opinion, since you need to sift through the facts and make sure you’re not mixing fiction in there somewhere. (For someone who also dabbles in fiction, trust me, it’s a tricky slope!)

One of the best books I have read on the writing process is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing down the bones (A book I highly recommend if you believe that writing is a Zen process) and one of my favouriteย quotes fromย that book is this one:

“Write, read,write, read. You become less attached to whether it is good or bad. ‘I wrote this now I’ll read it, no big deal.’

I think one of the first steps to practising detachment from your work in the current time is to disconnect yourself from the regularity of social media laurels. I admit it feels great, even wonderful, to be appreciated for yourย writing. Watching stats climb on the blog or notifications ping with comments gives a high unlike any other. Saying otherwise would make me a hypocrite.

But it’s equally important for me to start writing blog posts, ideas, the memoir without being that attached to how any of it will be received. Perhaps it’s time to write the way we should- for the love of writing.

The absolute, crushing truth is this: Not everyone will like what you write. Some of those reasons will be critical but most of them will be personal. It’s time we learn to accept that and release our work into the world.

And who knows? Sometimes, just maybe, it will strike more chords than you anticipate and the more unexpected the rewards, the sweeter they can be.

30 thoughts on “Are you attached to your writing?

  1. Interesting post. I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ and one of the things she says is to not refer to our writing as our ‘baby’. Because then, we do get too attached to it. We find it harder to chop and change. We take it to heart when rejected. Or worse, we find it hard to submit it in the first place. And you’re right — not everyone is going to love what you write. Even the best-selling authors have their critics {not everyone love Harry Potter…though I still cannot get over that!} Write, edit, submit…that’s all you can do. That’s all that’s in your control. The rest is up to the universe ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I was just quoting you to Tulika and I think that’s a very practical way to look at it. Only very hard to actually practise ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think having a fresh pair of eyes to look at our piece will help in us not getting too attached to the work. Oh don’t make me more jittery about famous authors and their critics. Please ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. I love your posts here Shailaja. They always make me think. According to me being attached to your writing doesn’t necessarily mean worrying yourself about how popular it is on social media. Of course I’m attached to my writing because it is part of me that I’m putting out there, not necessarily because I write a personal blog. Even if it is fiction it is MY imagination, my words, my ideas. And how can one not love or be attached to something that’s their own? As for acceptance on social media – that’s another thing, that’s something we need to detach ourselves from.

    1. I always love your coming by to leave comments because you always leave me with a fresh perspective on my own thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚ I think what someone else said here is so true: Don’t think of your writing as your baby. That’s the only way you won’t get attached to it.

  3. Your post reminded me of a blogpost I wrote about a couple of years ago, in which I said (at that moment) that I also don’t want to write for the sake of writing. I still believe that, in a way. Writing has to mean something more for me, especially the ones I put up on my blog. So in one way, it could be argued that I have a certain attachment to my writing. But I sincerely try to not think about the tangible outcomes/rewards of my writing (in terms of no. of comments, views etc) when I first publish it on my blog. My attachment, if it can be called that, is more about whether a certain idea/post fits in with the deeper purpose (for me) for which I started my blogs in the first place. And that keeps me grounded in some ways, I think. So even if I had an idea that I think would really make for a great post, if it doesn’t fit in with the spirit of the blog, I just don’t put it up, hey most of the times I don’t even write it down ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Treading that path is a tricky but necessary one. Knowing that a post may resonate but not put it down because you don’t feel comfortable, now that takes courage ๐Ÿ™‚ We’re in this thing called blogging for a reason and I think a very big reason is finding ourselves as writers. That may come through accolades or rewards but I think it comes at a deeper level from the satisfaction of having written a good piece. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Beloo. As always ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. As you said that you write for the sake of writing and thats the best part. After a point it the more you get attached to the more difficult it becomes to remain natural. Thanks once again for a great post.

    1. It’s always going to be a challenge, right? We have to find that tricky middle path that allows us to write for the love of writing while appealing to an audience. I wonder how authors do this.

  5. I think my blog started pretty much the way you mention – just for the love of writing, with the intention of putting down memories, with no real thought of how the reader at the other side would react. I think the hitch is that once readership goes up a bit, it’s difficult to ignore the person on the other side. Though my blog is still quite free-flowing in terms of language, it has become more challenging to think of what to write, how to write it, whether to bother with keywords, the list goes on :).

    1. I know what you mean. At some point it stops being ‘writing for myself’ and writing for the masses. Striking that balance can be tricky but doable. And I must say you do a very good job of it too.

  6. I am not sure that I can say I write for the love of writing. I started writing because I found it a good way to give wings to my imagination. But, then no doubt it has been feedback, criticism and the want to improve and hone my craft is what keeps me writing most of the time. Of course, and that I’d like to live up to the little moniker ‘Mr Fiction’ ๐Ÿ˜›

    But yes, you must always write for yourself first. But also be open to feedback.

    Good luck!

    1. Good way to give wings to imagination is more or less love of writing, right? Now we’re being pedantic ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think you’re pretty safe with the moniker. Nobody else seems to be able to lay claim to it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I’m attached to my writing too and it breaks my heart if something I wrote didn’t get noticed or appreciated well. But tell you what, it passes off quickly, since the fact that I wrote something I believed in is no longer an idea is too important for me. Instead of being restless carrying around unsaid thoughts in my mind I would rather share them and move on.

  8. Lately, I haven’t even bothered to use my social media strategies to promote my blog posts. I write for the sheer pleasure of writing, and the comments that I get are just like a sweet reward. I guess I’ve finally learnt that getting people to post comments at gun-point is not the ideal solution for blogging fame ๐Ÿ˜›
    But in these few posts I’ve written post my blog hiatus, I have started enjoying the process of publishing a blog post: searching for the right image, creating one if needed, learning to reply properly to comments. So I guess I can say I am quite detached from my blog posts.
    However, the same can’t be said for my #NaNoWriMo second draft ๐Ÿ™ˆ

  9. You are right that most people are attached to their writing and if it’s a personal story, even more. But I agree and get the point you are making. An effort without the thought that this has to get more popular will help us write better and write our heart out.
    When I write, some posts make me happy and some very happy. If the ones that make me very happy don’t get the attention I expected, I wonder what went wrong. May be it was just the time of the day. You made me think, Shailaja ๐Ÿ™‚ Good one on a Monday morning!

  10. I think it is inevitable to be attached to your writing. I don’t think it is possible to look at one’s own work in a detached manner. One way of trying to stay detached especially when writing a book is to get it edited by someone else. They will be more objective about it. Also seek out feedback and learn to take it in the right spirit but do it from those who are not your good friends. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  11. Write for the love of writing – now THAT is something I need to learn. I know I ain’t that good, but each time I write something and send it somewhere and it doesn’t get published, my heart sinks to the bottom of the deepest sea! And, yes, I do get attached to my work, but not as much as with the idea that it get ‘seen’! I need to loosen up, no? Write and leave it out into the world. If someone somewhere likes it, well and good; if not, move on.

  12. Yes, I am attached to my writing. Especially, I realized this when I submitted the final edits of my first novel. It evoked a sense of loss. Kind of sad feeling that I won’t be interacting with my characters anymore. I somehow find it difficult to switch to different, new characters. It’s odd but true.

    But, when you edit your work, it’s really important to detach yourself a little. Because, as a writer, every sentence or situation seems dear to us. But, it doesn’t work when editing your work. As editors, we need to control our attachment.

    But, for pitches to magazine, I am not that attached. I understand that it’s not possible get accepted every single time, so it’s easier to move on or do it differently.

    I wish you all the very best for your book!

  13. True about unexpected rewards being sweeter. I believe everybody starts that way, writing for the love of it, and soon gets attached to the response it is/is not able to garner. Self doubt nags each time I write something. Being unattached does make it easier, great insight. ๐Ÿ™‚

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