What Would You Write If No One Was Looking?


by Destine Williams

Hey everybody, today I wanted to do another Day In the Life post. And for today’s topic, I wanted to shift our focus inward and talk about something that’s been on my mind a lot these days. It’s this idea of being more honest when we write, draw, compose, or just create well…anything.

On Where This All Came From…

You see I’ve always had this feeling before I had the words to express them, but it was finally cleared up for me when I heard about artists that have sketchbooks that are made for the sole purpose of showing people and separate sketchbooks that are just for them.

I was listening to an artist named Sycra talk about how he doesn’t show anyone his sketchbook because he was afraid that it would turn into a thing where he would feel pressured to make his sketches good because people would see them.

And this resonated with me a lot because in both writing and drawing, I often feel the pressure to make things look good or make it seem really epic and huge, even when I’m working on something that no one will ever see.

In fact, I realized that it was hurting me as I was writing my current novel. I’d often mull over my sentences for a while and try to put down the perfect word even though this is just a draft that I know will get changed.

If I had to describe it in words, I’d say it always felt like someone was looking over my shoulder. I’d always imagine a reader’s reaction to what I was writing and this made me stress out over what I was doing even more. And that made everything even worse.

I had a bit of a rough period last week where I felt my writing wasn’t as exciting as it could’ve been. And I was getting sick of it and really discouraged.

So I thought about this for a while and I decided to take a new approach to writing my novel draft. Of course, most of you all already know that I’m a big advocate of writing what you love, so I thought about it from that angle and now when I sit down to write, I ask myself one very important question.

What Would You Write If No One Was Looking?

What if no one could judge you?

What if no one was over your shoulder?

What if no one would bat an eye at your book, drawing, or whatever you’re personal project doing? What if it wasn’t about money or fame or prestige? What if there was no rush for time?

What if it was just about you and what you love doing?

Would you write something extremely different from what you’re doing now?

If so, then there’s a big problem.

And this was a bit of an eye-opener for me. As I realized, that found at times I’d write something serious when I really wanted to write something funny or shocking. Or sometimes I wanted to stop and describe things, but I felt like I needed to move on.

I’m still finding a balance with this, but this approach is helping me get through things much better. And I find that my intuition is willing to chip in more with ideas when I free myself.

But also, in a way, that question is true. No one is looking over my shoulder and criticizing me. No one is ever going to see this draft. So really there’s no reason why I shouldn’t write whatever the hell I want.

But of course, there’s a big elephant in the room that I should probably address…

But My Work Has To Get To My Audience Eventually!

Yes, that is true. At some people are going to see what you create. And those people are going to form opinions about it, and some opinions are not going to be what you like or expect.

But here’s the thing…

When you go to the store to look for something to read by your favorite author, do you open their books and say, “Oh boy, can’t wait to see what I came up with in this book!”

No. Of course not. Because it’s their book.

People pick up your book, your art, read your article to hear what your have to say, not to hear you parrot the words of someone else. Otherwise, you’re just a cardboard copy.

And why get a cheap watered down version when you can just go look at the real thing?

If people are looking for you to be you, why pretend to be someone else? Even if you’re in a situation that’s not the best, there’s still usually a way that you can put your own spin on it. In fact, it’s almost impossible for you to not put your own spin on something, unless you’re following instructions strictly. But even that’s debatable.

So relax and be you.

Write the thing you’d write if no one could ever see it. And be the freest version of you that you can be.

And also get back in that water!




Alternately titled Meditative Monday: A Day In The Life Of An Author/Artist/Musician:  What Would You Write If No One Was Looking?

Destine Williams is the author of Vicissitude: Yang Side (Lost Earth), musician of its official soundtrack, and the founder of The Zen Zone where she gives tips and tricks to help out fellow writers. If you are interested in more posts like this, check out more here.

15 thoughts on “What Would You Write If No One Was Looking?

  1. What great advice. It’s something myself being a new blogger and freelance writer can certainly use when it comes to my craft. I have a couple different journals, but two of which are not seen by any. I enjoy the openness and freedom of writing knowing that no one will ever read it. I enjoy it very much, and enjoyed reading your post.


  2. Fab advice. If no one was watching I would write my Steampunk novel which I have been wanting to write for years but have never had the guts. Plus the world is telling me I write funny romance.


  3. Hmm a great set of questions here. I feel comfortable writing silly or comedy situations and tend to find going into the seriousness of a situation an area that for some reason I don’t know how to explore. Maybe I should give that a go and see where it gets me, wonder why silly comes so easy but serious feels off limits?!


  4. Reblogged this on Michael Seidel, writer and commented:
    I wrestle continually with this. I write many pieces that aren’t shared anywhere. Right now, as I edit a book, I’m goofing around and writing two other novels. I’ll just write a few paragraphs in each every day. I don’t know what will ever happen with them. They don’t shame or embarrass me, but the tedious process of publishing deflates me. When I finish, they’ll probably be added to the stack of finished but unpublished material, as I write on, riding the muse and just trying to hold on.

    So I struggle with this, not because I write for others, but because I write for me, and I’m growing calloused about what others think of my writing. Is it good or bad?

    Does that matter?


  5. If no one was looking.

    How about a sequel to the Time Machine. What happened to the time traveler when he returned to the future.

    Or war of the worlds (though in sense, we’ve had a sequel to it).

    Guess they’d be my flights of fancy of what happened afterwards in some classic novels.


  6. I agree writing something others will read may put unwanted pressure and expectations on the writer but it also has some positive aspects. As a new blogger I find that my blog entries in comparison to journal entries are more well written(they have less repetition and errors). So I think the knowledge someone else will see it makes us work harder on our product, whatever it may be, and improve it.

    P.s: I loved the post!! Really made me think 🙂


  7. I’ve found that the pieces I write for myself (the ones that end up on scrap bits of paper at the bottom of my handbag) can sometimes be the best of all. They’re raw and searingly honest. I think that “unrehearsed” aspect of our writing comes across to readers, which is why writing for ourselves first can sometimes be the way forward. Thanks for a great post! 🙂


  8. I’m guilty of this and it really slows my process down and kills the story when I edit whilst writing. My best sessions are when I let myself go and don’t worry about it being seen.

    You never know, allowing yourself to do what you want might create a diamond in the rough.


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