I was in the third grade when I received my first journal. And, while I couldn’t articulate at the time, that was when I discovered writing as mechanism to self-soothe. Writing helped me, and it still does.
But that doesn’t mean my journals are worth reading. When I’m journaling, I’m an “indulgent writer.”
What is an Indulgent Writer?
An indulgent writer is someone who allows his or her writing to be guided by his or her needs as opposed to the needs of the reader.
Writing in journals is typically indulgent—it’s all about you. It’s helpful for psychological, emotional and intellectual reasons, but it’s not necessarily going to get you published.
And that’s OK.
But if you plan for others to read your work, being an indulgent writer may be a problem. In those cases, the audiences’ experience with your work is as important (probably more) as your own.
Signs You May Be an Indulgent Writer
- You love the English language
- You use writing to self-soothe
- You’re political
- You love when people read your work
- You’re in love
- You’re grieving
- You have an MFA, Ph.d. or consider yourself to be an intellectual
- You’ve already published a wildly successful book
My guess is that if you consider yourself to be a writer at all, at least one of the above applies to you (at least four apply to me). That’s cool, we all write for a reason.
How to Check Your Indulgence
We all have indulgent tendencies, which is normal. Just remember to check yourself by asking questions such as:
- Did I write this because it moves the story along or because it’s a perfectly crafted phrase?
- Is this scene necessary or did I include it to advance my political views?
- Does this story actually make sense or am I just using this draft to figure out how I’m feeling?
- Does what I’m writing improve the story or am I being an indulgent writer?
Which “indulgent writer” signs apply to you? Let me know in the comments.