The Writing Aesthetic

September 05, 2021


cinematic music.

headphones on.

grabbing a piping-hot cup of caffeine.

a blank document file and notebook.

clacking keyboard keys.

colorful sticky notes on the wall.

a steadily increasing word count.

new books stacked by your desk.

a passing storm outside.

your pet snuggling next to you mid-sentence.

an Instagram post with your writing progress and a clean-looking photo.

autographs.

typewriters.

the idea of crafting powerful, fantastical stories.


To me, this is the popular writing aesthetic. When I go online to look for writing or studying inspiration, I find media featuring these details. They're very pleasing to look at and think about, and sometimes merely the thought of fulfilling the aesthetic can be enough for me to start work.

But that's the problem, isn't it? 99% of the time, writing is work. Not aesthetic, not clean, not perfect, and nothing like what other writers and creators share, it seems.

Nothing about the aesthetic displays the work writers put in. It tends to glamorize the writing life - which isn't always bad. But when I look at those things too many times, I assume that the glamorized life is what the writing life should look like all the time. And when I don't measure up, I feel as though I've done something wrong - because why am I the only one struggling?


How about a different sort of "writing aesthetic?" Maybe one such as this . . .

earbuds in, endlessly scrolling through Spotify to find the perfect song.

staring at the document and wondering what the right word is.

checking Instagram.

a half-eaten bar of dark chocolate.

"maybe this part isn't as badly written as I thought."

messy desk, messy mind.

organizing Notion for the five thousandth time to procrastinate.

different colored fonts. 

checking YouTube.

why isn't this story working?

doubt doubt doubt.

hitting the word count but feeling unaccomplished.

distractions.

frustration.

closing the document to open the internet.

Maybe there are a few aesthetic moments, but those are few and far between. However, a common theme is the ever-present struggle to translate the story in my mind onto the page. And that's hard. No aesthetic can encapsulate that.

At the end of the day, the aesthetic only conveys the idea of writing.

I have actually written.

And that is much more beautiful.

-Nicole <3

Don't mistake the aesthetic for the work, friend. Putting in the effort is messy and hard, but it's so worth it <3

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7 comments

  1. I LOVE THIS. SO MUCH. You are NOT in any form or fashion the only one struggling. The writing life is a hard, exhausting one so much of the time. Sleepless nights, caffeine-induced insanity, dry bloodshot eyes--yeah, it is a struggle!

    But I LOVE what you said, how it's always worth it. Those messy, exhaustive days are usually the ones that produce the most wondrous, beautiful words. And, just as you said, it's worth it for that. <3

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  2. love this post and the realistic aesthetic felt more aesthetic to me because it's raw and true. Except I never have any dark chocolate laying around and I must remedy this situation 😂

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  3. my aesthetic for doing literally anything productive is What's Aesthetic lol

    anyway, such truth! writers--or any kind of artist for that matter--shouldn't be expected to keep up a working aesthetic at all. they're nice to look at, but they don't really serve a purpose xD

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  4. Nicole, this is absolutely perfect. There have been so many times when I thought I was kind of failing as a writer because my aesthetic was more like:

    forcing out words//surfing the internet//taking forever to reach my wordcount//sweating because it's summer not fall//listening to music but tuning it out the whole time//procrastinating//not being able to concentrate//working hard or hardly working?

    And...your second aesthetic just hits the mark so, so, so well. The first aesthetic may be achievable from time to time, but really, do we want to measure how we're doing as writers by our aesthetic? Probably not. If there are words on the page, we're succeeding.

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  5. I feel this for so many things art is like this too. There is so much work and frustration to go with all the pretty and fun things.

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  6. I live this post so much! The second aesthetic seems much more doable. 😅

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Welcome to the comment section! I love hearing what you guys think and seeing you guys talk. Just remember to keep it clean, and as always, check back for my replies! <3
-Nicole