I’ve come across a lot of writers who say they write for their readers, and a lot who say they write for themselves.
I guess the belief is, if you write just for your audience, you feel you may lose your style or your voice along the way.
So I thought I might weigh in on this one. And for me, I think it all boils down to whether or not you want to be published. Isn’t that why we’re here?
You can write a piece filled with a ton of jokes you think are funny and send it out to the world, hoping that everyone falls in love with it. They might, but it’s unlikely. And here’s why:
For me, when I write, I am thinking about the reader the entire time. I’m still in control of the topic, and what I put in and leave out, but my job as the writer, is to make a connection — to grab the reader. I want them to feel like they’ve gone through something after reading my work.
For example, when I sat down to write my essay I was a confirmed cynic, then I had kids, for the Globe and Mail, I asked myself what I wanted the essay to do in the end. Basically, why am I writing this? Why would the reader care about these words?
I wanted to show how children can, and do, change your life for the better. By the end of it, I wanted the reader to feel like they were punched in the heart (in a good way). I love writing zingers, and I could have put put a few in the essay, but I thought it would have upset the impact I was making, so I left them out (thinking of the reader).
To me, if you can’t evoke some sort of emotion from the reader, your writing has fallen flat. The reader is more tempted to glaze over the writing, or worse, put it down for good.
I also considered the publication as well as the reader. I could have written a hilarious adventure. It would be relatable to most parents out there, but it would not have been unique. Most likely, it would have been tossed in the pile with all the other cheeky articles about parenting hardships. This was about the power children have in changing people. And I had to convince an audience who might not have children.
The essay was still written in my voice. I did kill a lot of darlings along the way, but I made a connection with my readers, and I believe that’s what writing is all about.
Maybe this debate is just for authors selling books, but I think as long as you’re writing to be published, you should be thinking about your audience.
What are your thoughts?