Should I write for myself or my readers?
It’s a question that many writers struggle with (I myself included). Time and time again, we are told that you should keep your audience in mind when writing. It’s true – if you are writing a children’s picture book you’re not going to include scenes of heavy romance or violence – this is to be children’s book, children are the main audience, and therefore the story should tailor to children.
But what if you become so focused on writing for your audience that you constrict your imagination; your story? What then?
I wholeheartedly believe in writing first and foremost for ones’ self. Why? Because it allows your imagination to be free. You’re not focused on crafting your story to others’ fancies, you’re not worried about the fact of whether your story will be published or not. Your imagination and all of it’s wonderful abilities is less pressured and free to roam, discover, and record as it pleases.
Whenever I write, I don’t tell myself that this particular piece will be published. Not that I’m saying that my work is terrible and not worthy of publishing, but because I’m not setting myself up for the trap of focusing my work on what I think people will want to read – when I don’t really know what they want to read! Writing brings me joy and when I’m happy and free of pressure, I am at my most productive state – and that’s where I like to be.
Sure, you can write stories for contests and base your story on the submission’s guidelines or you can write stories based on instructions that were given to you, but if you do not have guidelines or instructions, I strongly suggest that you just start writing without a care in the world. Write what you know, write what you like, enjoy yourself, and feel liberated. The ideas will come more smoothly and you will be more productive.