The Only Writing Advice You Need: Who Cares What Anyone Else Thinks?

Stop worrying about originality and opinions. If you enjoy writing it, that's all that matters.

1/2/20233 min read

In my decade of working with writers, I have often been asked, "Do you think this is worth writing about?" As a writer myself, I’ve asked this question many times. I become so consumed with wondering whether my ideas are original or if others will like them that, sometimes, I never write anything at all. Over the years, I’ve realized exactly how problematic this line of thinking is. The only thing that matters is whether the piece is important to the person writing it. So now, to every single one of those writers — whether I am their editor, publisher, or co-author — I always say, “Who gives a shit what I think?"

In digging into this question, both with my writers and personally, I’ve found that no one really wants the opinion of others. What we’re actually dying to know the answer to is, “Can I write something completely unique about this topic? Will I feel proud of what I have created when I’m done?” The truth is, I can’t answer that for you. And neither can you unless you take the leap and write it.

What I do know is: the driving force behind your idea is not glory. No one writes with the sole intention of fame. That’s like quitting your job with the goal of living off of lottery tickets. We all hope to get famous, but it’s not really why we’re doing it. We’re writing because we can’t not. The only way to get the idea out of our heads and get a single moment of peace is to flesh the story out with give it paper skin. We write for ourselves — no one else. And so, it does not matter if I like your story. It is yours to tell, and thank goodness, because you are the only person who can.

That voice in the back of year head that’s niggling away about whether or not this idea has been done before? Allow me to ease it. It absolutely has. It’s been done before and it will be done again, but no one will do it exactly quite like you. It is interesting and worthwhile because you are interesting and worthwhile. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to write that story you’re so concerned about being derivative or stale. Then, send it my way. Prove me wrong.

This giraffe playing the drums believes in his dreams, and so should, you!

When you have it written, when you have pushed the idea out of you entirely from start to finish, only then I will share my opinion. I don’t know if you'll be proud of yourself when you’re done, but I will be. And I will think your story is incredibly worthwhile, even if I don’t like it. I promise.

It’s not just about feeling proud of your work, either. Writing has so many other benefits, as well. It helps us to clarify our thoughts and emotions, to process difficult experiences, and to connect with others. It’s a way to make sense of the world around us and to share our perspectives with others. By pushing ahead and writing that story you’re so concerned about, you’re directly confronting those harmful ideologies of inadequacy.

So if you’re feeling stuck or uncertain, I encourage you to move forward in whatever way works best for you. Brainstorm with friends or try prompts or writing exercises. If feedback does help you, ask for it. But, above all, remember that writing is for you — not anyone else.

You are the expert on your own experiences and ideas, and your voice is worth sharing. So go ahead and start writing! I can’t wait to read what you come up with.