Too often we confuse the reason we are writing, or more specifically the audience we are writing for, and that makes our ramblings unclear.

The reason for writing can be broken into two major groups – ourself and others. Either one is just as valuable, but it is essential to decide why you’re writing before you start – much like having a destination before you start a trip.

Sometimes we write for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with that. It is my experience that a number of counselors recommend it. The process can be quite cathartic, it can help us heal from injuries, help us map the future or it can simply be an enjoyable activity. I have engaged in all three and found them useful although very different.

I once worked with a gold medal winning Olympian who was writing about the 8 years of training he went through to win a gold medal. As he said, “three hours later it is over and no one cares, and you have to re-invent yourself because tomorrow is different.” He wrote a manuscript but I don’t believe it was ever published and that was not his intent, he was writing for himself. I must say it was an interesting story and I found our conversations fascinating but that is where the story stayed.

Sometimes we write to relieve anger, being Canadians it has been our tradition to write a letter when we are angry, and thankfully most times we don’t post it. I have learned to always leave that kind of email sit for a day before hitting send as well. I made that mistake a few times before I caught on to that lesson.

Another reason to write is because it is a pleasant activity. Yes, some people enjoy it. And some rate it about as pleasurable as dental surgery (without freezing). But it doesn’t need to be. Especially if you are not going to have an audience judge (read) it. Sometimes it just helps you clear your mind when you write things down and can come back to see them on paper a day or two later.

I am sure there are even more reasons to write for ourselves but these are the main ones I use and I have to say each provides more than enough benefit to justify the activity, but when you sit down to write, don’t put the pressure on yourself of think what will someone think when they read it. There is no reason that anyone else has to read your writings and that does not detract from their value.

Next time, writing for an audience.