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note to self: i’ll be there for you, always

written june 6, 2021. Photo by Kristine Cinate on Unsplash I have always looked for myself in other people. I think the idea was that they would somehow hold the pieces of me that I felt were missing. That maybe, if I wrapped my identity up in theirs enough, we would somehow make a whole person. It's not healthy to live like this, but I did it anyway — burning through relationships and searching for something I couldn't quite name. It was never enough, not to be myself, but it was never enough to latch my identity to other people, either. I got close, several times — I thought I had reached the pinnacle of self discovery. I thought I had completed myself. But in the end, relying on other people to help build yourself is never a viable way to do things. It's only recently that I've started to become comfortable with the idea of being enough, as I am, on my own. Several years ago, in this same position, I would have searched for another person to attach my identity onto,

Write What You Need

"I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn." 
- Anne Frank

There's an old saying: write what you know. Some people agree with that saying. Some people don't. But I'm here to present a different saying: write what you need.

While there are many reasons why people write, one of which is getting published, there's also the fact that writing can be a kind of therapy. At least, that's the way it is for me. Often I bring out things I'm struggling through my writing, even if what I'm writing isn't completely related. This provides me a different lens with which to view my life.

I don't always write about what I'm going through. But often if I'm struggling, it finds a way to come into my writing anyway. Sometimes it's subtle, and it doesn't always directly relate to what I'm going through. For example, in 2011, I wrote Because I'm Irish. It didn't really have anything to do with what was going on in my life, but it did cheer me up and give me something to focus on and make me happy.

Then there are other times where I have to make a conscious decision to write about it for my own sanity. I've been participating in Camp NaNo with Evanescent Fireworks, but this month has been hard. I've been feeling terrible physically for a few weeks, which puts a big damper on my mental state as well. So, earlier this week, I decided to go with it, and I started a novel about chronic illness, one I've been planning for a long time. And within minutes, I felt better. It was extremely cathartic to write out what it's like to struggle with pain and not have any answers. And even though it wasn't on my list of writing plans for this month at all, it was really important for me to do.

I write for a lot of reasons (mostly because I can't stop), but one of the reasons I write is to help feel sane in the midst of life. And so that's why, whenever I need to sort through something, that takes precedence. Because I write for others, yes, but not right now. Not while I'm unpublished. Currently, I write for me, and I'm okay with that. If it makes life easier to bear, so be it.

If you're in a tough spot, please feel free to write about it. Whether in a blog post, a journal entry, or a work of fiction. Because life is hard, but for me, words are a refuge from that. And if they're your refuge too, then by all means, write. Write what you know. Write what you love. But most of all, write what you need. Whatever that may be.


  1. In all my years of learning about writing (which really isn't that much, but whatever), the most important thing to remember about writing is one should write because one wants to. Because one can't help but write. Writing should never be about money or being published or having your name branded on book displays across the country.

    Writing should, first and foremost, come out of wanting to for yourself. :)

    Also, I'm so glad you're writing about chronic illness. I think if you decide to continue with it that it can help a lot of people who also struggle with it but it can also help people understand what it is like to from someone to have chronic illness (someone like me). So keep writing! :)

  2. This is a great point. I'm also in a rough spot in my life right now. Hang in there!

  3. Write what you need. Great advice, I think I shall follow it!

  4. I love this.

    I regularly see a counselor to deal with my various chronic illnesses, and we've recently started exploring some of my difficulties by looking at the story themes, scenes, and aspects I get stuck in. For instance, my literary agent observed that my main characters are always fairly in control of their emotions (sometimes too in control). I brought this up in a session and we talked about how that stems from my own uncontrollable surroundings and the ways I've had to internalize control. Funny, huh?

    It's a fascinating use of both counseling and my creative side that helps me understand more about myself and more about my craft.

  5. Great post! I feel so much better about what I'm working on right now, because it explores issues that I encounter on my day-to-day life. I switched from writing fantasy (not that it doesn't address real issues) and started writing realistic fiction, and it made a huge difference.

  6. *nods* This is so important. "Write what you know" is overrated, and "write what you need" is so much better. So much of what I write is extremely metaphorical, because I write to figure out my mind and what's happening in my life and all that stuff. Yes, I want to get published, but that's more frosting on the cake. I would write even if there were no such things as publishing companies.

    Thank you for writing this! :)


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