How to write for yourself: an 11-step guide


In obvious contrast to a previous post, 8 steps to write a blog for others.

11. Write whatever you want, no matter how messed up or horrible you think it is. Don’t write as if you expect your “work” to later be published in a memoir. Why would you write for yourself if you didn’t write what you believe is true?

Here is where you hoard all of the thoughts you are embarrassed to express, every painful regret you can’t admit to others, and every irrational fear you’ve ever had. Write a letter addressed to any individual, of everything you just can’t say. This is an extreme free-write. 

That your entries don’t make sense when strung together shouldn’t bother you, but rather be indicative of every day leaving a different impression on you than the last.

10. Be yourself. You’d think this advice would apply better to writing for others, but really and truly, be yourself. You are who you are when no one else is watching, you are who you are in the way you treat those who have absolutely nothing to offer you.

Here is where you can be vulnerable, fractured, insecure, uncertain, confused, scared, sad, mad, and every strong emotion in between. Be yourself, not the pretty, painted, resolved mask that you tote around during the day.

9. Write everyday. Write illegibly or in incoherent phrases or doodle around if you can’t think of anything else to write. Write how you shake your pen or scribble meaninglessly on a page to warm up. Just do it.

Everyone is stuck on their phones and computers nowadays; handwriting is a lost art, and it ought to be preserved. It’s promotes the highest quality of writing, because it offers distraction-free, original thought. The internet, the world at your fingertips ought to be included in perhaps, the revision process or inspiration for a blog post, but nothing more.

When we were kids, we read books (or at least I did, I don’t know how you all spent your time). These days, we forgo that experience to read news articles and blog posts, and while those may well be exciting and contemporary…

Books matter because they state ideas and then attempt to thoroughly prove them. They have an advantage precisely because they slow down the process, allowing the reader to internalize, respond, react and transform. The ideas in books matter because time is taken to establish truth, and because the reader must take the time to consider each idea and either accept it or, if he rejects it, to think through sound reasons for doing so. A nation of people who write and read is a nation with the attention span to earn an education and free society if they choose.” – Oliver DeMille

8. Write somewhere, and collect your thoughts. You don’t want them scrawled in the margins of textbooks or on sheets of loose leaf paper, to be lost when you clear out your backpack every year. Find a notebook, or create a private journal online. Easily portable, easily accessible, and no excuse not to write.


6. Read back through what you write. Most of the time the benefits of writing arise in re-reading your thoughts retrospectively, so that this sacred practices leaves you with more than just a daily itinerary. You will love flipping back through pages of evolving ambitions, tracing back the changes in belief.

Take the abstract ideas and goals inside your head and clearly define them in words. Your journals, your diaries are a reference point for you to look back upon.

5. Write down memories. Satiate your nostalgia. Every minor detail gets ossified in words. My English teacher right now calls it “rememory;” it’s using words and carefully-chosen metaphors to bring you back to a time and place.

4. Write about many things, or nothing at all. The scope of your ranting is as broad as you’d like it to be, and that’s the beauty of private writing. No one to judge you, no one to proofread and mark up your work. As every thought surfaces, pluck it out of your mind and emboss it on a page. Your firefly thoughts.

3. Experiment here. While in public you have a reputation to uphold, in this sanctuary is a drawing board for branching out with new ideas. Use strong poetic language with no shame, or use only metaphors to convey your present emotions.

2. Never edit. Publish immediately. Add words, but never take them away. Personal writing thrives off of your ranting and stares in every edit, every revision.

1. Make sure no one ever reads it.


  1. Pingback: Sophomore Spotlight #6: Taking a break from blogging | Catherine Zhang
  2. Pingback: 4 Fundamental Truths About Writing | Catherine Zhang

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