01 June, 2012

Would You Write If You Knew You'd Never Be Published?

Publication is, of course, one of the major milestones--the goal, you could say--of slogging through the writing process. There's debate over traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, but both are still means of giving any reader a chance at your stories.

By Horia Varlan, CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr

Yet, I'm curious: What if publication was impossible? 

Would it be a relief for you not to have to worry about how your writing would be perceived, or would it be a killer of some (or all) of your passion for the craft? Would you write in a different style, a different genre, about different characters if you had no audience to think about?

Personally, I think I would continue writing, even if I knew I had no chance of being published. Publication is a good motivator and a nice dream, but I like putting words down on paper--or in a word processor, as it may be--for the sake of it.

What about you?


-----The Golden Eagle

85 comments:

Joshua said...

I keep writing now, so...what would change? ;o)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I didn't think I'd be published the first time, so yeah, I'd keep writing. Besides, if no one else would ever read it, that removes all the pressure.

Liz said...

I'd write anyway. I'm in the habit now. There are too many stories swimming around in my head. They have to get out.

Old Kitty said...

I'd be lying if I said that being published wouldn't matter! It does to me, I'm afraid, and it motivates me to keep trying and learning how to improve my stories. I want other people to read what I writer otherwise I don't see the point of me writing stories! The downside is of course, all the rejections! LOL!

Take care
x

Andrew Leon said...

I don't really know. I think I write for an audience just like I tell stories for an audience. I don't tell them to myself. Usually, it's by request. However, my first book, I wrote primarily for my kids. They were my audience. Everyone else was just secondary, so, in that sense, I probably would have written that anyway. In general, though, I wouldn't bother with writing anything down if not for publication. It's a long tedious process, writing it down, and I can do so much more in my head without that hassle.

D.J. Kirkby said...

I think that if you write because you are compelled to do so then you are truly a writer! That is one of the reasons why I get up at 5am to write each day....

Yvonne Osborne said...

YES, YES, YES. It's a part of me. It's who I am. I can't help myself.

Carrie Butler said...

You bet I'd keep writing! Words can be maddening when not expressed. ;) Have a great weekend!

S.P. Bowers said...

Yes, I'd keep writing. But I may not be quite so hard working and determined.

Hildred said...

Let's be real, most people who knew they would never be published...would probably start slacking at the very least.

I know I would. Writing is my *job*. It's my only source of income at the moment. I do it because I LOVE it, but if I were never going to make a dime off it...well, I'd have to make my dimes somewhere, and all my attention and time has to go to that other source of income. I "get away" with writing all day and caring so much because it has an end product to turn into. Without that? Well, what's the point? Suddenly it just becomes a hobby, and in this economy hobbies take backseats, for the most part.

L.G.Smith said...

Yeah, I really have no delusions about getting published. I mean, I might self-publish some day, but even that is iffy. But I still write my stories most days. It's just what I do. :)

Matt said...

I wouldn't mind not being published as long as someone had the chance to read it, or more importantly if someone wanted to spend the time to read it. Hopefully at least one person would enjoy it as well.

Jamie Gibbs said...

Yup, no worries there. I write for the pleasure of it first and foremost. If no one gets to see it, I'm cool with that.

prerna pickett said...

I would...if nothing else, maybe my kids would enjoy the stories some day.

JAVS said...

Started writing at age 13, in a journal, and had no intention of making it public! But that practice of writing, and the pleasure it gave, finding words to capture scenes and meanings, prompted me to write other things - stories, poetry, non-fiction - that I would like to publish. But hope of publication isn't essential to writing or wanting to write.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah I'd keep on writing too, as I enjoy it and whatever else happens happens.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Oh yeah. I would write...did it for years and then I got published.

I still write pornographic stuff and post them on an erotic gay porn site. I get more riveting emails from that than from the book I published.

Krispy said...

I'd LOVE to be published, but I think I'd still write even if I knew it was impossible. Writing is first and foremost for me after all, and though I would like to share it with people, I enjoy it on its own too.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Absolutely. I wrote long before I seriously considered trying to get published, and I still write some things that I never intend to publish. Writing is just part of how I live.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

That is an interesting question! I'm not sure. Probably not whole novels, but I'd keep writing journal entries. That's something I did long before I started trying to get published.

mshatch said...

I'd still write - because I have to - but knowing there was no chance of publication and thus an audience would lessen my enjoyment of it.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I would probably keep writing but I would write more nonfiction if I wasn't writing for publication.

Rob-bear said...

Writing knowing that I won't be published? You've got to be kidding. Every time I put a new piece on my blog, I'm published.

Oh, you're talking about a book, or magazine, or newspaper? Been there; done that. I'll just encourage other writers who want to be published. And keep writing on my blog.

And even if I didn't have a blog, I'd probably keep writing. I've been writing for so long, I do it almost by second nature.

Colleen Chen said...

Good topic, GE! I would totally still write. I kept an extensive diary for 15 years and it was a daily catharsis that kept me sane.

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi,

I like striving toward goals, so I'd always be writing, however, I'm not sure I'd stay with it if I never got published. Personality wise, I get bored if I'm not improving at what I do.

Gail said...

I have written all my life. I published a few things here and there years ago that didn't even count.

I still write but book lengths are too daunting. I only do shorts and never tried to publish.

It would be wonderful if I could be.

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

I know I would write no matter what because I have. It is something that my mind requires.

Christine Rains said...

I'd keep writing. I don't think I'll ever be able to stop. I have stories that no one will ever see, and I knew it when I wrote them.

Alleged Author said...

I would still write because it's an escape for me. However, getting an agent and a publishing house would be pretty awesome!

Chris Allinotte said...

I think about publication with everything I write. The way I see it, I'm telling stories, and if no one hears the story but me, then I'll never know if I got it down the way it was in my head. If it was just for me, I might as well be daydreaming.

MHO

Heather said...

I would still write because its who I am, I have to do it.

Carol Kilgore said...

I would still write. But if I knew for sure I would never be published, I might omit the last couple of passes where I really sweat all the little stuff.

Belle said...

I would write my blog and comics even if no one was following. I just find it to be a lot of fun. When I first started only my sister and mother were following and that was fine for me.

Bee Zors said...

Well I know it's really hard to get published and it may never happen for me, so I think I'd keep writing. It would definitely be a different process, though, with a lot less pressure.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Absolutely. Writing is a way i express my creativity. It is also an emotional outlet.

And we have hundreds, if not thousands of writers who read unpublished authors every day. Our community sticks together and support one another even if we don't get published.

Great question Golden.

Michael Pierce said...

I wrote many years just for me and it was a great escape. Writing for others extracts me from that escape once it's written and brings forth all the self-conscious feelings of my deservingness to share my writing in a public platform. But then I do it anyway. No matter what, I will write until I die. Sounds like a bumper sticker. Have a great weekend!

J.W. Alden said...

You bet I would! I can't stop. I doubt the genres I write in would change in any way, either.

Writing is just one of those "edge" pieces in the puzzle of life. You know how you have to find all of the edge pieces first when you're putting a puzzle together, or else none of the other pieces make any sense?

I've taken breaks from writing before, but I always get that itch and end up returning. Publication is a nice carrot on a stick, but I'd keep chugging along regardless.

J.W. Alden

Donna Hole said...

I write for eventual publication. I enjoy writing, and need the outlet; but I wouldn't work this hard at it if I wasn't working towards the publication goal.

Just knowing it is possible keeps me going.

.......dhole

sue said...

That's simple. Yes!

Writing helps me catch elusive thoughts and phrase them as best I can. It's an enjoyable challenge.

Sue

michelle said...

Yes, I would continue writing. It's a form of expression and therapeutic at the same time...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Golden Eagle - we're publishing already .. we're bloggers. Virtual stories last for ever .. they can tantalise us ...

Interesting comments to your post - cheers Hilary

Elise Fallson said...

For years I wrote knowing it'd never be published. And that gave me a kind of freedom in my writing. I could be as crude, melodramatic, harsh, sweet and violent as I wanted to be. It was therapeutic. I didn't have to write like a "girl" I just wrote like "me" that is until a few years ago when I started my wip. Now, I write under a lot of restraint to fit into a mold in the hopes of getting published. So in short, if publication was not an option, yes I would write, but I'd be free to take grater liberties with my prose. (:

Deborah Walker said...

No, I don't think I would. My stories are all about communication for me. Without somebody to talk to, I'd try something else.

Traci Kenworth said...

I would even if there was no chance of publication. I think writing is in the soul and you either do or don't do it.

the writing pad said...

Good point - bit like would an artist paint, if he thought no one would ever see the results ... I think some stories just have to be written, and you write them 'in the zone' because they please you. Others, though, may be written and aimed more at publication. If the readership of those was removed, maybe they wouldn't get written!

Charles Gramlich said...

When I was young, the answer is yes, I'd written even if I didn't have a chance to publish it. Not these days, though. I want people to read what I've written.

laughingwolf said...

i write to entertain myself, first...
then hope a few others enjoy it, so need to get it to em, somehow

back in caveman days, storytelling was oral, maybe it'll be that again?

Angelina C. Hansen said...

Of course the correct answer is yes. If we write just to get published, we could be very disappointed. But if we write because we love to write, than it doesn't matter. Nonetheless, I believe many of us have an inherent need to share the stories we create, thus the desire to see them in print. ^_^

RaShelle Workman said...

This is a great post. I started a journal when I was 8, and keep a journal to this day. So with or without publication as an option, I'd write. Maybe I wouldn't stress as much though.

Edith said...

This has been a journey for me. When I began writing, it was such a personal thing that I didn't want to share it. As the years have gone by, however, I've questioned what value my stories have if they're not given to others. I'm working toward sharing more, but mostly with family and friends, which is an alternative to publishing that keeps some people from ever pursuing it, I believe.

Medeia Sharif said...

Before writing novels I wrote poetry and I kept journals. It's something I couldn't stop. Writing is a part of who I am.

Deniz Bevan said...

Easy - of course! That's what I did for years and years.
Actually, since writing is such a given for me (I suffered more in the two years when I had no ideas and no inspiration came to me) I find it interesting to read the 'no' answers.

The Golden Eagle said...

Joshua: That's my view on the subject too, to an extent.

Alex: Definitely!

Liz: It's frustrating to have a story in your head but not be able to write it down. I get a little crazy when I can't write and I've got an idea. :P

Old Kitty: There's nothing wrong with that! Writing because you want other people to read it, that is; I'm sure all writers could come up with reasons against rejections. LOL.

Andrew: True. Stories flow so well within your own head--no pacing to worry about, the dialogue is easier, and the setting's already there.

D.J.: Wow, that's early in the morning!

Yvonne: That's certainly a resounding answer. :)

Carrie: LOL. Maddening, indeed.

You too!

S.P.: Me, neither. I would continue to write, but if I didn't have to show it to anyone else I wouldn't work os hard at improving what I do.

Hildred: I'd be one of those people, too.

Unfortunately, yes. I'm sure everyone's been making hobby sacrifices in the past few years.

L.G.: Good for you, then! :)

Matt: I'd spend time reading something you wrote. That's what I hope, too--that someone who reads a story of mine will enjoy it.

Jamie: I'd probably be a little sad that I could never share what I write with anyone else, if absolutely no one got to see my work, but I get your drift. :)

Prerna: I'm sure they would! Well, will, I suppose. :)

JAVS: I agree--one could still write without the goal of publication.

Pat: Same here, probably.

Michael: . . . I'm sure the emails are colorful. :P

The Golden Eagle said...

Krispy: Agreed. I like just describing things in words. :)

Jennifer: That's awesome. I think most of us writers aspire to be like that--writing for the experience, but published too.

Terry: Ah, good point. Journals are different from fiction, but significant in their own right.

Mshatch: It would have a dampening effect on me, too.

Susan: Interesting! I actually think I'd write less non-fiction if I knew I'd never be published. :P

Rob-bear: Great point. We're all published in a way through blog posts.

Sounds like a good plan. And while I haven't written nearly as long as you have, writing does seem to grow on you the longer you do it!

Colleen: Wow, 15 years? That is a lot of writing!

J.L.: I find that projects can die without a clear goal, too.

Gail: Shorts seem to be popular these days, though, especially with the rise of e-readers and online magazines. Maybe one of your stories will find a home someday. :)

Mary: I think that's true for quite a lot of writers.

Christine: I've got a few stories that will never see the light of day, too. :P

Alleged: That's for sure!

Chris: Thanks for your thoughts. :) It's true, the way people perceive your writing can have an impact.

Heather: You are definitely a dedicated writer! :)

Carol: Same here.

Belle: I started and kept blogging for the same reason--I enjoyed posting.

Bee Zors: Agreed. Makes me wonder what kind of fiction writers would turn out without an influence by the industry or audience . . .

Oh, and BTW--do you have a blog? I've tried viewing your profile but it redirects me to Google+. I'd love to follow you, if you have one. :)

Michael: That's an excellent point. I'm sure the number is in the thousands--the writing community is pretty big!

Michael: It would be an awesome bumper sticker, though.

Hope you enjoy your weekend as well!

J.W.: I do. And I love your writing analogy to it. :)

Donna: Which is notable in itself. You seem to work hard at your craft.

The Golden Eagle said...

Sue: I agree.

Michelle: Oddly therapeutic, sometimes, since writers do such terrible things to their characters. LOL.

Hilary: True! Blog posts are a form of publication.

Elise: It interests me how people adapt their writing to the market. I don't think I could do it--I'm just not good enough to change my style. And, I guess, publication isn't big enough of a deal to me. (Though I think it's a great goal!)

Deborah: Writing can be a good means of communication. Some stories feel like conversations between the author and reader.

Traci: It seems a lot of writers here would!

The writing pad: Good point. There are probably stories out there that were motivated by audiences, not direct author inspiration.

Charles: And you certainly seem to be reaching readers through your blog!

Laughingwolf: That would be interesting. A future with more storytellers instead of the written word . . .

Angelina: I agree! :)

RaShelle: Thank you!

I probably wouldn't, either, at least over the small stuff that would get fixed in an edit.

Edith: I think that's a great alternative to publication.

Medeia: A lot of writers here seem to keep or have kept journals!

Deniz: Two years? Ouch. That's a long time to not be inspired to write--it sounds like you're back on your feet now, though. :)

Abi said...

I would, I do now. I hope to be published some day, maybe after I die, but its not something I'm writing for. I'm writing for me. :)

Amanda the Aspiring said...

Hmm…hard question. I think I'd give up my starving artist routine and get a "real job" instead of living off my mom, and relegate my writing squarely into the "hobby" category. Which would be heartbreaking, but, girl's gotta eat. ^_~* And I might write short stories and poetry more often than novels, because of the time commitment issue. I don't want to live in that world, though! Sounds like a scary place. O_o

Aristoph said...

Sweet, terse, post and I like it a lot!

I would still write, without publishing, because I write for self before I write for others. Maybe I'm being biased about that but how can a good writer write, and be published, if they did not like it themselves? A creation is liked by its creator and then is published. All I will do is negate the publishing process haha.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Stories are meant to be shared. I think if publication wasn't an available option, I could settle on being a bard. ;)

Milo James Fowler said...

I wrote for 17 years with no goal of publication. It was enough for me that my friends and family liked what I wrote. But then my girlfriend (now my wife) encouraged me to get my work out there into the wide world, and I'm SO glad I did.

Would I keep writing if publication wasn't an option? As long as my wife, friends, and family continued to read and enjoy my work, then mos def.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I decided not to write a book but to write a couple of blogs, both are being published :) Diane

Cherie Reich said...

I would still write, but feedback is still nice. :)

The Dandy Lioness said...

I definitely think I would. I've been writing for a long time before the idea of publication even came into my head, and so I don't think it would really matter. Even at this point, I don't expect any of what I have currently written (well, maybe this one story, after a whole lot of revision) to ever be submitted for publication-- I just write because I like it. I didn't do NaNoWriMo because I expected to be published-- in fact, I wholly expected to not ever be published. And one thing I know for sure-- my NaNo11 will definitely never be published, and probably won't even be edited again.

-Sofie

The Golden Eagle said...

Abi: I think a lot of writers for themselves, at least in part.

Amanda: It does. It's nice to be able to share your creative endeavors with other people. :)

Aristoph: Glad you like it!

Agreed. As they say--you can't please everyone, so you might as well please yourself.

Carolyn: Sounds like it would be fun. :)

Milo: I'm glad you did, too. I love reading your stories!

Diane: True. And they're quite enjoyable to read.

Cherie: It is, that's for sure!

Sofie: I've got a novel I doubt I'll ever edit, too. My NaNoWriMo 2011 novel, actually. :P

Samantha Sotto said...

I'm with you. I think I'd go crazy with all my imaginary friends just hanging around in my head with nothing to do. Writing is a personal pleasure. Getting published is a bonus.

Precy Larkins said...

A big YES! I would definitely keep on writing whether I get published or not. It's too much fun! :)

Nas said...

Keep writing! I've received some Rs so I'm not even submitting now. Yet I still write.

Talli Roland said...

Interesting question! I'd still be writing what I'm writing now, for the simple fact that I enjoy it!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Yes, I would keep writing. I've been writing for years. I have to admit that if publishing weren't an option at all, I might get lazier with my writing and spend a lot less time trying to perfect my stories and poetry. I might be tempted to write them out, and then move one to the next ones more quickly.

Jen Chandler said...

I'd keep writing. Creating stories helps unclog my brain and allows me to live in worlds I can only dream of.

Sure it would be a downer. We all seek publication to get our words out there, to hopefully inspire others and push them to do what they dream.

Happy Monday to you! Great post!
Jen

laughingwolf said...

we have some professional storytelling societies this side of the line... cbc-radio broadcast a few, the tellers were awesome!

cleemckenzie said...

I've always written things without the expectation of being published. In fact, when I was I was really surprised. Well, delighted first, surprised second. Then scared to death. Others were going read my words. Now I knew I was into a whole new game.

laughingwolf said...

http://www.storytellers-conteurs.ca/

nutschell said...

I'd definitely keep on writing. It's just that kind of passion:)
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Beth said...

I would continue writing, but I probably wouldn't take critiques. As bad as it sounds, I usually love my first drafts and if I'm not trying to be published, no point in making big changes.

Marsha Sigman said...

I would still write. No matter what.

The Golden Eagle said...

Samantha: Albeit a big one. ;)

Precy: I agree--writing's fun, even with its ups and downs!

Nas: Good for you. :)

Talli: I think good writing comes from the writer enjoying their craft.

Tyrean: I'm sure I would. The idea of other people reading one's work is certainly a motivator. :P

Jen: It's fun to invent new places. :)

Thank you!

Laughingwolf: Cool!

And thanks for the link--that's a really interesting site. :)

Cleemckenzie: I suppose that's part of the reason you named your blog "The Write Game"?

Nutschell: Definitely something a writer should have.

Beth: It would be nice to be able to leave first drafts alone and not worry about revising them, that's for sure . . .

Marsha: A lot of writers here seem to feel that way!

Nancy Thompson said...

I wouldn't change one thing about what and how I write. I write what I like to read. Period.

Ciara said...

I think being published makes a difference on how much I write. I'm a hard worker if there is a chance to make a living at it. Okay, don't laugh. Any way, I would write as a hobby even if I wasn't ever going to be published.

DWei said...

I'm writing a blog and I'm pretty sure no one is going to ever want to publish it. :P

Rusty Webb said...

I'm not sure either. I know I have to do something creative or I'm going to have a meltdown, and I enjoy writing a great deal. I would probably write short stories at least, novels are hard and I think I always start them with publication in mind. I'm not sure I'd go through that much effort if I KNEW no one would ever read.

Great question.

Paul Tobin said...

Yes. It keeps me sane.

Geek's Paradise said...

I've been fortunate enough to be published fairly often both in print and online. Obviously there is a bit of ego involved but my main reason for submitting my writing is to keep padding my resume. When I'm applying for a job with an English department, the more published works you have the better chance you have of making it beyond the initial "resume phase".

If it weren't for that, I probably wouldn't submit my work at all. Of course I would still write, but my writing has mainly been for me.

The Golden Eagle said...

Nancy: Cool. :)

Ciara: I'm not about to laugh! I think that's a good reason to work hard.

DWei: But people certainly want to read it. :)

Rusty: I probably wouldn't work as hard at my writing, either.

Thanks!

Paul: Sometimes I feel that way as well.

Geek's Paradise: I think a lot of writers write for themselves. I know I have stories that serve a personal purpose, and are unlikely to see the light of day (or at least be read by someone else).

M Pax said...

I'd definitely keep writing. My characters become my best friends. I want to hang out with them. I want to experience their worlds. I love giving them life.