Have you ever found yourself stuck between writing for yourself and writing for readers? I find myself in this situation all. the. time. It can be frustrating scanning for the thin line between the two: me or the reader? Even though this is something I'm currently struggling with, I thought I would share with you the "answer" I've come up with (so far).
When I think about writing and why I started writing, I realize I started for me. While I love telling stories, poetry drew me in at a very young age. It became a lens for me to look at the world and make understanding of my own life. I went through a period of my life where I needed to write poetry; I couldn't function without it. That's probably a strange thought unless you've ever had this experience with writing, but for most of my life, my writing was very selfish. I wrote strictly for myself.
When I entered college, I became much more conscious of the reader. This was mainly due to the overwhelming number of essays I was writing every week, but I was aware that my writing bubble started to have audience members come into it: teachers, obviously, classmates, and even some friends and family members. I approached writing for an audience much different than I did when I was writing for myself, and because of this, I learned a lot about writing.
Today, I find I mix my wants and needs with my readers' wants and needs.
A few elements went in the motivation behind starting this blog, but ultimately what keeps me coming back to the computer as often as I do is that I love writing about writing. I love teaching about writing. This blog does address issues I feel readers may want to know about, but I'm having fun keeping up with it. I can definitely say that blogging is not a chore; it's an enjoyment.
In a few blog posts, I've mentioned I'm working on a collection of poetry and I want to self-publish this. From the research I've done, it looks like there isn't much of a market out there for indie poetry collections, but this is something I've wanted to do for a long time. Even if no one is interested in reading this book, I need to publish it for myself. That said, I still am keeping readers in the back of my mind because I want readers to enjoy reading these poems. When I'm choosing which poems to include, the order to place them in, and when I'm thinking about things such as formatting, my readers are who I'm focusing on.
Now, when I'm writing copy, I'm only writing for the reader (and employer). Sometimes I write copy about a product that really interests me, but most of the time I'm writing for appliance companies; that's OK. I write enough for myself during that week that I don't mind having writing projects that are solely for an audience.
At the end of the day, I still can't really answer whether writers should write for themselves or for the reader. I suppose it depends on why you are writing in the first place.
What do you think? Do you write for yourself or the reader? Or are you more like me and write with both in mind? Leave me a comment and let me know what your thoughts are.