Writing for Self vs. Audience

Who do you write for? I don’t mean which publication, company or special interest group. I mean who is your audience? Is it you or is it comprised of various types of people?

My audience varies. I have written copy for newsletters, new business proposals, white papers, case studies and print ads. Also, I wrote for the student newspaper, the Western Herald, at Western Michigan University (WMU) while earning my degree there. The content I produce is tailored to the interests as well as the knowledge of the audience. It has always been important — to me — to write with the end objective in mind. What do I want my writing to achieve for my employer and/or for myself? Do I want my response to a Request For Proposal (RFP) to get my employer to the next round in contract negotiations for new business? Was that investigative piece I wrote in college going to help other students call out shady landlords and also motivate my own to fix my leaky roof?

I take a different approach with my creative writing. Usually, I write about whatever comes to mind. Earlier this week, I read a post, It Was the Day the Pumpkin Appeared on the Chair, about freewriting. That post took me back to junior high, high school and college where freewriting was a practice taught in English class. The purpose of such an exercise is not really to think too much about what is coming out on a page. The purpose is just to take an idea and write. So, in this case, I write for myself. Sometimes I find snippets from these writings that can be used in a blog post or even  for professional purposes. But, other times, these writings are not to be shared with an audience just yet.

The premise for this post came from two sources. One was from a new blogging friend from The Tattered Thread. His post, The Power of Community, talks about how much impact social media has on the content online writers produce. I admit, it influences my posts. I look at my site stats regularly to assess which posts garner comments, likes and followers.

A second source was a post, An Artist’s Palete at Jane in Progress, a blog by experienced television writer, Jane Espenson. I appreciate how she considers herself to be a part of the audience she writes for. This viewpoint helps me feel more confident about the appeal my own stories will generate when I am ready to write and share them. If I’m not loving what I create, how can I expect you to?

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7 thoughts on “Writing for Self vs. Audience

    • Ashmita – thanks for reading. I notice the difference in the responses I receive when I post things I love versus ones that am only somewhat satisfied with.

  1. It’s harder now to write for myself, and I’m not happy about that. I want to get into the zone where I block thoughts of what anyone else will think about what I’m writing. You do have to love what you write, or what’s the point?

    As for my blog posts, I tried numerous times to see a pattern of which kind of posts get the most comments, but I’ve never succeeded. I know I can “clear the room” by sharing a sample of my writing though … especially a poem. 😉

    • Hi Linda – I agree with loving what you write. But, it’s interesting. Sometimes the posts or writing I love the most doesn’t get as much feedback as the posts I put out there that I’m so-so about.

      • Well, that’s what I meant about not being able to predict which of my posts will receive a lot of comments. I used to work hard on some posts, trying to write something “significant”, but sometimes those posts got many comments, and sometimes they fell on deaf ears, as it were. So, now I’m more relaxed about it. I don’t have a teaching blog, just a this is me and this is what I’m about blog, so I write what’s on my mind and … let the comments fall where they may. 🙂

  2. I write for myself. Each post is like sifting sand. The source of comments depend on a lot of things…what time you post for random WordPress comments, how busy your subcribers are, if your friends recognize a story, etc. Many of the “pebbles” that get caught in the sifter are fellow writers, which is pretty nice. I have been very bad about writing and reading lately. Weeks since writing a post.

    • Teri – I am not usually satisfied with posting anything unless the writing comes from something I truly want to share. There are times when I do post and am not “in love” with what I’ve written. I have missed reading you. But, understand life gets busy sometimes.
      I decided to try potty training my son while my hubby was away on business and the kids were out of school for winter break. Not the best decision I’ve made.

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