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Writing for Yourself vs. Writing for an Audience

Sometimes, as writers, we churn out words without really thinking about who we're writing for - which is natural, because churning out words is big job requiring lots of concentration. But when you take a break, do you ever think about who exactly you're creating a book for?

Is it for yourself? Lots of writers say the reason they write is to express themselves, to let out the words they wouldn't have a chance to let out otherwise. Thinking of your writing as just for you, not the criticizing masses, can take a lot of the pressure off of the job and let your creative juices flow freely.

Is it for an audience? Thinking about an audience as you write can give you direction. You remember not to stick in anything that wouldn't interest a wider crowd. And thinking of your book as a way to entertain/help/communicate something to readers can give you major inspiration.

Personally, I think the best writing can be done "for" both yourself and an audience. It's important to write what you love, for you. Awesome art comes from the heart (yay, rhyme of the day!). But it's also just as important to keep potential future readers in mind. They're real people who, if you put the work in, might be helped, entertained, and/or thought-provoked (that's a thing, right?) by what you create. Yay, writing!

But that's just my view. What's yours? Who do you write for?
Emilia Plater

Emilia is a YA author who avoids studying, food that isn't covered in cheese, and waking up before 10:30AM whenever possible. A bundle of confusions.

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  1. These are great questions to think about. I know something that someone said at the Writer's Digest Conference in January was that you need to write the story you need to tell. Be authentic and write what's in your heart, then find your audience.

  2. I feel like my audience is threefold: the young people I hope will read my books, myself when I was a teen, and myself now. Reminding myself of this is helpful when I'm feeling down about not writing commercially enough, not writing about what's trendy, etc.

    "Would you have enjoyed those [whatever I'm currently jealous of] books when you were a teenager?" "Noooooo." (Well, maybe. Sometimes.) "Do you enjoy those books now?" "Noooooo." (Again, actually, sometimes.) "Well, then. There are other readers out there who share your tastes. When you write for yourself, you're writing for them, too." "Oh. Um. Okay, I guess I'll get back to work now."

  3. I would like to think I write for both. I write because I love to write and I feel I have a story in my head that's worth telling. I also have an audience in mind as I write. So far I think it's working out pretty well!

  4. It depends. With my current WIP I feel like I'm writing for the characters. As though if I don't help them out, terrible things will happen.

  5. Something I tell my students is that first drafts are often written for ourselves--and then we revise for our audience. I think that's true whether you're writing for academic audiences (like my students) or for more popular markets.

  6. I write for myself and edit for other people. : )


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Item Reviewed: Writing for Yourself vs. Writing for an Audience Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Emilia Plater