The Writer’s Manifesto

If you search for “writer’s manifesto” on the web, you’ll find no shortage of declarations of intent from writers of all types.  It doesn’t surprise me that many of us need to write down our vision for our work.  So much of what writers do happens in our heads and in private, so it’s easy to get lost in a tangle of thoughts and stray from our paths.

I’ve been following Jeff Goins’ blog and last week he posted a short e-book of his manifesto.  The message is simple and it doesn’t take long to read, but I think  his ideas are valuable.

Jeff reminds us that writing is art and says that it must be a creative expression without regard to audience.  If  our work is good, an audience may follow, but there are no guarantees.  And first comes the work.  We write because the one thing common to all writers, published or not, known or invisible to all but our family and friends, is that we have no choice but to write.

I believe all this to be true, but at the same time, I do write in hope of publication.  I know that, unless I complete another major revision, my first novel that I worked so hard to write won’t ever be in print.  I’m almost comfortable with that knowledge.  Still, I don’t think I could have spent six years writing it if I had realized at the start that it would be shared only with a few trusted readers.

I don’t think I could immerse myself in the long process of writing another novel without some hope that it might one day be published.

I’ll do my best to use all of the lessons I learned writing my last novel so that the next one can be better, so that my work can be good.  But I still hope that I’m not writing only for myself.  I hope that the story I need to write will be one that others want to read.

Jeff’s manifesto ends with what, to me, is his most important message.  “You are not alone.”

It helps to know that this contradiction I wrestle with is one that I share with other writers and artists.  We do our work, create our art as we must, and we hope that the world will embrace it.  We have to believe that we aren’t writing for ourselves alone. Maybe that is my manifesto.

Work hard and believe.

What about you?  Do you have a manifesto? 

You can get a free copy of Jeff Goins’ “The Writer’s Manifesto” if you sign up for Jeff’s newsletter.

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19 Comments

Filed under Creativity, Writing

19 responses to “The Writer’s Manifesto

  1. Actually, I think I carry my manifesto in my head and I know it would be so much more clear to see it in writing. I’ll have to ponder on that, however, since that makes it a little more concrete.

    I would certainly like to think my work can be enjoyed by a broad audience. I write what I would like to read and I feel other readers look for similar material that I could produce.

    • Your writing defnitely has broad appeal. You’re so funny and so wise. Let me know if you come up with a manifesto, because it’s sure to be a great one.

      • Wow, me wise? I’ll humbly say thank you. You’ve made me smile 🙂 I do appreciate that you enjoy the site. I’ll post the manifesto to keep myself on track. Enjoy the long weekend and of course, be safe!

  2. anitra

    Hi Shary~~~
    You have the loveliest voice when you’re speaking to your readers sbout writing and your feelings about writing. It’s graceful. Punctuated by short sentences to surprise the reader. Did you plan that part of it or did it happen naturally? I enjoy reading what you write about your process.

    I know your main goal is to finish and publish a work, but Wouldn’t it be piquant (couldn’t resist that word) if you were always writing a novel or other belletristic work, but it would be a “rabbit garden” (ask me) for the real garden of your fine ability to talk to readers about writing.

    How is your hip doing?
    Anitra (writer name)

    • Thanks so much for visiting while you’re recovering. I’ve been thinking about you and I hope you’re feeling okay. I will definitely ask you about a “rabbit garden.” Sounds like an interesting concept.

    • I agree with Anitra, Shary. I can see a pleasant disposition through your writing.

  3. I love your manifesto, Shary! Thanks for sharing mine.

  4. I hadn’t thought of a writer’s manifesto until you shared this. I’m not sure what mine would be. I am definitely a writer that wants to be published one day. But I’d say the personal writing I do on my blog isn’t necessarily for the goal of publication. It’s for me and a way for me to share stories and work things out in my head. Of course, it’s a major plus that people actually read it. But I think I’d be writing even if they weren’t.

    • Your blog is lovely, and I could definitely see your essays being published if you decided to compile them. I’m with you that I’d be writing something even if no one read a word, but I’m not sure if I could write a novel knowing it was just for myself.

  5. I loved this! Before reading this, I had not thought about my writer’s manifesto. It would include ‘believe’ for sure! I will have to give this more thought. I always enjoy reading your blog.

  6. Shary, you gave a lot of us food for thought in thinking about our own writer’s manifesto. It reminds me of when Elizabeth Gilbert was trying to write her next book after the phenomenal success of Eat, Pray, Love. She said she couldn’t write that book successfully because she started off too worried about writing to the audience, as she didn’t want to let them down after Eat, Pray, Love. It wasn’t until she gave up writing to the audience and writing what was in her heart that she was able to succesfully complete her next book.

    • Thanks for the reminder that even very successful authors struggle with this issue. It’s so hard to block out thoughts of audience, but it seems that’s what we must do.

  7. Yes, so worthwhile to ponder a personal writer’s manifesto. Perhaps it also changes over time as we progress in our writing lives. My current manifesto resonates with yours; writing feels most meaningful to me as a shared journey. Sharing stories builds a feeling of connection in a world that would otherwise feel much more isolated and alone. Sharing stories makes the world go ’round! So finding a home for our stories is a natural desire.

  8. I so identify with you, Shary. I don’t write simply for myself. I can’t–as in don’t know how. I may laugh occasionally laugh while I’m writing something, but the joy is knowing that someone else might, too. It’s not about being famous or anything, just the knowledge that I’ve been able to amuse. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom and sharing of heart.

  9. Shary, what an interesting post! I’ve never thought of a writer’s manifesto. I think June has expressed herself beautifully on the subject and I agree with her wholeheartedly. I want to think that what I write, not only serves the purpose of exercising my creativity, but also to entertain others and provide them with a chuckle or two. It’s wonderful to know that others not only appreciate what you write, but come back for more. 🙂 That said, I think I would write with or without an audience. This because writing also has a therapeutic effect on me.

  10. Nel

    After reading this, I’ve realized that I don’t have a manifesto. I may possibly have one in the future but for now writing is my mental exercise. Perhaps, I am yet to come to an understanding that writing (especially now that I’ve started blogging) is not plainly personal.

    Thanks for sharing your manifesto, Shary. It has given me something to think about. 🙂

    P.S. I’m looking through your archives. I hope you don’t mind. 😉 My best to Lola.

    • I’m delighted that you’re visiting older posts… and Lola says “hello.”

      I don’t think personal writing or writing for mental exercise means you can’t have a vision for your work. But I also think there’s nothing wrong with feeling your way. Meandering paths are often the most pleasant.