Write for someone.
Write for yourself, of course. But for someone else, too. Someone not-you.
(Not your cat. Your cat won’t be any help. Probably. I don’t know your cat.)
Writing for yourself is lovely. You want to write about dragons? Write about dragons. You want a happily ever after? Write a happily ever after. You want the girl to skip out on both guys and go have adventures with her great aunt? Write that. You want to write endless conversations between the characters in kitchens and backyards and front lawns because you don’t want anything too stressful to happen to them? Write that too!
Of course, writing for yourself can be tricky.
Me: Oh, I love this.
Me (the next day): I hate this. It’s so stupid.
Me (the day after that): Wait, I do like this.
Me (several days later): No I don’t.
Writing for someone else is a way to get a bit of perspective on your work. You want to write about dragons? Okay, but does your someone care about dragons? What kind of dragons does your someone like? Is your someone tired of reading about dragons? Would your someone rather read about horses or bears or flying motorcycles? (Too bad. They’ll read about dragons and like it.)
You are writing yet another witty argument between characters as they make dinner, but what does your someone want to read about? Witty banter? Or explosions! Chases! Forbidden love! Maybe it’s time to stop bantering and actually do something.
If you can get an actual someone – someone who cares about you, someone who enjoys your writing, someone you want to write for – to read your writing when you write it – that’s wonderful. Ideal, even. But if you don’t have someone with this kind of time, it can still help to think of this someone as you’re working.
Wanting to make someone besides yourself laugh, or smile, or turn the page frantically, or feel sad. (Stop making them sad, you monster.)
Do you have someone to write for? Try it.