Who are you writing for?

Posted: November 23, 2016 in Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ah, the deep thoughts that enter your mind when you have just a little bit of spare time to think. There are entire clickbait articles on these types of things. I know. I’ve read several. Many of them still have my head swimming. However, the questions that I considered recently had a lot more to do with a subject that those reading this blog should be able to relate to: who are you writing for?

Of course, this question can have several meanings itself. The first meaning that will pop into many people’s minds is “Who is your target audience?” This is actually an unbelievably important thing to keep in mind when you are writing. What age group are you shooting for? Are you hoping to attract a particular gender of readers or perhaps those with a certain interest set? It’s necessary to know the answer to this question in order to have it help guide your writing. It should shape your choice of words, your characters’ styles, and even your choice of cover art. Research your target audience. Even if you feel that you are part of the very group that you are writing to, it would be a good idea to question and contact those outside of your own comfortable circle of friends. The world often looks different to those who aren’t you.

The other way of interpreting this question is a little deeper. It delves into the idea of why you are writing at all. Who is it that you are doing this for? Let’s go ahead and get the common response to that question out of the way. All writers will say “I am writing for my readers. They are the ones that make me sit down at the keyboard and put my heart and soul into my writing.” It makes for a great acceptance speech at an award ceremony. The problem is that while this answer is not false, it isn’t entirely true either. Of course a writer writes for their readers. Even those who haven’t shown their writing to anyone hope to have someone read it some day. It’s like saying that a chef cook for the eaters. Of course they do. People don’t cook something up for hours, look at it, say to themselves That looks pretty good! and then throw it in the trash. That would be ludicrous. There is someone left out of this whole equation: the writer.

If you write something, you feel that you have something to say. You feel that someone else should hear your words in a way that you might not be able to say aloud. Perhaps you feel that the people that need to hear your words are those that you might otherwise never have an opportunity to communicate with. You feel that you have something to contribute to the world, and you have found writing as your way to make your contribution. So when asked who it is that you write for, the honest answer is that you write for yourself. Some people are afraid to say this because it seems selfish or arrogant. I disagree. When you write, you are sharing with the world some of your inner thoughts, your imagination, your dreams, and all of the things that make you, you. You are really putting yourself out there, open for criticism, ridicule, debate, and validation. When you are writing, you aren’t being arrogant, you are being vulnerable, and that can be a very noble gesture.

So, who do you write for? You write for yourself. Feel free to admit that with pride and no shame. You are making your contribution. Don’t be afraid to recognize that.

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