Can we be completely selfish, and follow every whim, when we write for an audience.?

I have been writing bits and pieces on this blog for a little while now, and as I do it is becoming clear that I am using it as a platform to ask questions about the often confusing world of writing.  These questions are touching upon subjects that I think about when approaching my work, and I am sure are questions that others ask themselves from time to time.  As always, I find that people’s answers are helpful and interesting, and I’m always glad to hear what others in the same position have to say.

So, here are my deliberations on the question described in the title of this blog.  My first thought is that every writer who sets out to get published must have one eye trained, no matter how vaguely, on what is happening outside of their immediate writing environment.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be sitting there, eagerly following the current figures and sales of the latest trend; but they must be thinking of how the material they’re writing is going to be taken by others.  After all, who would want to read it if it was all about you.  But then, there is the other side of things, the fact that everybody has shared experiences, and this is what people enjoy so much in other people’s writing; therefore, if you just write what comes naturally, then someone is bound to find an echo of their own life in what you’ve written.

As usual, I think that it is probably somewhere in the middle, and it probably depends a lot on the genre (that old chestnut again), that the writer is writing in: For example, the sci-fi novelist is probably a lot more outward looking than, say, the literary novelist.  My main concern in all of this is that if you think too much about what others want, you end up writing things that veer away from your original intentions: also there is the danger that you are just churning out another “write by numbers” formulaic piece of fodder.

I personally try to set out writing something that means something to me (which is a good start, I guess!), something that will keep me charging on through the darkness, because that is the reason that I write: to process my life, and what happens to me.  I think that I am lucky in the fact that the material I do write (I hope), is fairly accessible to  most people, and I think that is because as writers, it is our job to remind people of what their lives are really about, remind them of the beauty of the everyday.  Perhaps if my life was too far from normal, that would make me unreadable, because there would be no connection to others.

Well, I think I’ve come to some sort of loose conclusion on that one; or maybe not.


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6 Responses to Can we be completely selfish, and follow every whim, when we write for an audience.?

  1. katemsparkes says:

    I like Stephen King’s advice about writing with the door closed (write the story you want) and revising with the door open (with your audience in mind). Seems like a brilliant way to get the best of both worlds and find balance.

    • I agree there; I know some people have a bit of a problem with King, but to me he is just a good writer who writes what gets him going.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Thank you, Rob, for an interesting blog post. And, yes, I find your writing accessible. Like the Stephen King quote, Kate.

  3. I have to say I am prolly an odd duck in this, but I never think about what anyone wants out of my writing. But then I write solely for me. Would I like to have it published one day, oh for sure! And do I want it to be the best it can be, of course! I even work with writerly friends, because they do really inspire my writing. I don’t look at writing as a solitary thing like most people either… without a friend reading what I have, my WIP I can’t continue it, shape it or make it better… so I suppose my way of writing for my audience is just done naturally in the style in which I write.

    • I think it’s true to say that it’s important to have friends when you write. They’re what drive a lot of it forward really.
      Thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.

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