Audience – Important or No?

Day 1 – “A” Audience

I can’t believe that it is April already! I have been looking forward to this challenge since last years’ ended, and have since been planning and outlining and gearing up for a month of writing-themed blog posts. As I mentioned in my theme reveal post, I had been debating a few theme ideas, but ended up deciding on “Writing” as it is a topic I’m passionate about and hope it will elicit a number of great conversations with my fellow bloggers and writers, comparing tips and motivations, routines and methods. 

And so, A. Audience. When trying to decide which direction to go on this, I was initially thinking of the importance of audience. As I pondered this, I thought about the audience I have in mind when I write, whether that be my blog posts, my novel writing, poetry I submit for publication, etc. That made me quickly realize that I typically don’t write with an audience in mind, which got me wondering if this is common. If others write strictly for themselves, and only after the piece is written do they present their work to a specific audience based on the content, or if from the get-go they write for an audience.

During my college career that is all we did. Particularly as an English major, all we did was write. Write to inform, write to persuade, write to elicit an emotion. All different types of writing, but with a target audience of either the professor, an assigned party, or the group of fellow students. In my professional career, I do technical and business writing on a daily basis, writing employment-related documents and articles for a very specific audience. That audience ranges from employees, managers, and executives, to business professionals and potential clients.

For my personal writing however, I write strictly for myself. Of course I love being read, I love discussing my work with my audience (my readers and followers), but I don’t necessarily write for them. Granted, this may change as I get closer to finishing my novel, as I progress further along the path of getting a collection of poetry published, I may realize that I need to edit and tweak my writing for that audience. But, as I write my initial work, I write as I feel motivated and inspired by a variety of random things, people, and places, I write to please the creative gremlins that urge me to get things down on paper, and I write to create a sense of peace and calm within myself.

Is this normal? Is this common? Do you write for an audience and if so, are only certain pieces tailored for that group of individuals? Does it depend on what you’re writing and how it is presented/published? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this one!

Happy writing and good luck to all my fellow bloggers as we embark on the A-Z Blogging Challenge over the next month! 🙂

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64 thoughts on “Audience – Important or No?

    1. A friend brought up a interesting point, a topic of argument we discussed with a former professor, in which he adamantly believes that everything we write is for SOME audience. And if we profess that we write for ourselves, then the “perception of a perceived you” is the audience. Hmm…

      1. I’d say he’s overthinking. I work on the principle that if the writing can’t entertain and convince the writer, then who else will it convince? Hence, you have to write for yourself and not worry about audience.

      2. He was known for overthinking… That is a very valid point. If you cannot convince yourself (the writer) then it can come off as dishonest and unauthentic writing to the readers.

  1. I appreciate your distinction between writing for self versus for an audience. I think a lot of my writing begins as something I do for myself, but gets tweaked in the editing process if I intend to use it for a particular audience. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I agree with you on that. And it also depends on the piece you are writing and the content. A personal piece of poetry will obviously have been written for myself that I am just happening to share, whereas this post for example, though written for “me” is directed to other bloggers and writers, and was thus “tweaked” along the way. Thanks for your great feedback!! 🙂

  2. Good luck with your A to Z!

    Very often I find that there seems to be a particular person or group of people that I’m ‘talking’ to as I write. I think of my posts as conversations and it helps to have someone in my mind.

  3. Love your A to Z theme! Writing can evoke a wide range of genres, ideas, and conversations, especially conversations. When I initially begin writing, I have a fictional audience in my head, I call him Stefano. If I cannot get him interested in what I am writing, then I know it is time to rework or trash the project. If I am planning for publication, I will seek out fellow writers to bounce my work on, so they become a targeted audience. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I look forward to more of your posts!

    1. I love that! Having a “fictional audience.” I suppose I could deem my “creative gremlin” my inner audience 🙂 I really like your method of collaboration to get feedback and how those individuals evolve into your target audience!

      1. Thanks, Christina… I love your “creative gremlin” very imaginative! I have muses too, Catharine and Evelyn… they mostly help with poetry though 😀

  4. Depends on the post, the more rambling or ranting, the more it’s for me, rather than an audience. I blog to both network and get my thoughts down. In my previous jobs, I was very audience driven, now I’m more me focused.

  5. I sort of have an audience in mind when I write my blog posts. I need that; otherwise I’d go on dozens of incomprehensible tangents instead of just a few. 🙂 I don’t think about the ‘audience’ when writing my fiction, though, with the possible exception of thinking, ‘This is going to make my beta reader’s head explode when he reads it.’ That usually comes along in the editing stage. I also think about my beta reader when trying to decide if I’ve shown my hand too early, so to speak, in terms of plot, etc.

    The only person I’m writing FOR is my brother, but we write a lot of things together, so he doesn’t count as part of the audience. (This is not to say I don’t want thousands of people to read and love my fiction, only that I’m not thinking about them when I’m writing.)

  6. Christina, your question: “Who do we write for?” is one I’ve been trying to figure out. I’m thinking that we do need to write for ourselves first, in that we write what makes our own heart pound, and also to tell our story. I believe we need to hear each other’s story–even vicariously through fiction.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  7. I am an addicted reader which influences my writing. I love the quote about not being able to write if you don’t read. There is a part of me that writes for my favorite authors. My first novel’s audience was Rosamunde Pilcher (The Shell Seekers author) whose novels I love. My second novel, coming out this April, was written for my parents as a target audience. It’s an interesting idea…easier to name after the novel is finished. Enjoyed your A post!

    1. Great point! I definitely have a few favorite authors who’s styles I greatly admire and try to emulate in certain practice pieces. Fantastic perspective!

      Congrats on the upcoming release of your novel!! 🙂

  8. I would imagine that established authors with a fan base would be more likely to keep their audience in mind than the aspiring writers. I’m more towards the latter bunch, so I write for myself when it comes to novels. Since I’m working with a publisher of a sci-fi/fantasy e-magazine, I produce those types of stories specifically for those genres.

  9. I do think that it’s important to keep your intended audience in mind while writing, so you can communicate in a way that is sure to make sense to them. Writing for children, for example, is quite different than writing for a group of college faculty members…

  10. Good questions. With fiction, I tend to write for me and hope that others will also enjoy it. Since my blog’s purpose is education, I write for my readers. The interesting thing is that my readers vary a lot, so it can be tricky to reach everyone with all my posts.

    1. This seems to be a common theme, writing for yourself when it is fiction, but writing with the audience in mind if it is a more targeted piece (whether that be a themed blog, professional pieces, etc.). I agree with you 100% with regards to fiction writing, write for yourself and hope that others enjoy the piece. Thanks for your feedback!! 🙂

  11. Well, I used to be a lot more concerned about audience. Now though, when I look at my writing objectively, I think that it is a lot more genuine when I write for myself…and perhaps keep others in the back of my mind…just as a self check as to whether or not if would be easy to relate to.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Authenticity (or the lack of) in writing is a huge peeve of mine. I feel that readers can tell when a writer not being genuine. If you’re not being honest with yourself (and by default, your writing) how can you expect your readers to believe in what you have to say?

  12. Great post topic, Christina. I think I write for both myself and my audience in mind. I write what’s in my heart, but I tend to craft that with my fans/readers in mind too.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Happy Challenging!

  13. I’m so glad to read more about writing! My theme is about practicing your craft (writing or other art) daily, but I used to teach college English, and I loved to discuss audience. I think first drafts should be written for the writer, but as work gets revised, an intended audience should be imagined so the voice, details, and tone get shaped and completed. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    1. I agree with that completely. This way your own voice and authenticity shines through. As you edit, you can tweak things to appeal to X reader, while maintaining that original voice.

  14. For me it’s a little bit of both. I write to entertain myself, absolutely, but I also write because primarily I’m a story tell and always have been. I like to entertain OTHER people with my stories, as much as I like to entertain myself, maybe even more. So when I write, I do write with an audience in mind, just not a specific audience.

    N J Magas, author

  15. Prior to writing, I was an artist. It was my day job. It did support my family. In order to be a non-starving artist I found it was necessary to have a very specific customer base/audience in mind when I worked. It allowed me to tailor pieces and concepts to my followers and increase my sales. If I had been purely making art for pleasure I would not have taken that approach but because it was my bread and butter I found it to be most effective. Because this is the route I am used to, I find myself writing for a specific audience. Yes.

    1. That is a good point. Particularly if you are writing (or other types of art), audience is very important. At work for example, in my business and tech writing, my clients are my “audience” and I have to tailor my writing to their industry/organization/culture. All to pay the bills! 🙂

  16. While I continue to write for work I started this blog last year to express the creative writing that has long be dormant. A great post!

    Regards
    Jim

  17. I think audience matters only so far as the level-of-niche you bring to your project. If your work is fairly niche, than the audience will obviously be smaller, but you can throw in inside jokes and things that would otherwise get flagged by beta readers, etc. As for me, I just make sure my stuff can be followed… I worry about audience at the marketing stage.

    Thanks for visiting Out of Print!

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    Out of Print, Fiction authors and their shorts

    A-Z Blogging in April Participant

  18. I think we should first please ourselves through our writing. If we love it, others are bound to as well. As we continue, it all depends on the piece we write. I write for myself, and I also write for others. For my novel, I would like an audience, even if that entails criticism. It’s okay. The story is not really a book until it has an audience, or I just keep in a story. Writing is also therapeutic, and that’s for me. There are pieces I write that will never be read by another human being. 🙂
    Great post, Christina. Happy AZing.

  19. Depends on post to post, but most of it are just my thoughts or feelings…not necessarily for an audience but in hopes that it will also connect with a few 🙂 …Great first post on the challenge!

  20. The more I think about the nature of storytelling, the more I think that you have to keep the telling part close to your heart. The story has to be created with the audience in mind, or what’s the point?

    1. I like the (popular) routine many bloggers here seem to adhere to of writing first for themselves. Then editing the piece and tweaking to tailor it for a particular audience. The only danger I would worry running into with this method, is tweaking it so much that you lose your voice and message.

      1. This is true. But since no one wants a piece that was already published (even) on a personal blog, over-tweaking might change it into a “different” piece… In my case, I’ve found it’s a matter of changing the perspective so that it’s not so first-person oriented. Naturally it changes the voice, but that may not be a bad thing sometimes. Especially if you maintain the original message.

      2. Good point on changing the perspective! And I agree, maintaining the original message should always be one of the top goals when reworking pieces. Thanks for the great feedback! 🙂

  21. I once read that it is good to establish limits when you write. Whether that is by picking a genre (which implies a general audience) or perhaps a non-fiction subject (which again implies an audience) it’s a good idea to have some parameters around your writing so you have guidelines. Whether you think specifically about an audience or not, I really do not, but there is one that implied and important. 🙂 Best of luck on your A-to-Z posts. Drop by Down Home Thoughts and leave a thought or two if you like. It’s my first year to participate in A-to-Z. So far it’s been great!

    1. I really like your routine of establishing limits and guidelines! This definitely helps ensure that your writing isn’t completely random and unorganized! Popping over to your blog now!! 🙂

  22. Christina, I don’t think there’s any such thing as normal when it comes to creativity – as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.
    I target my women’s fiction, obviously to women, but more the middle aged woman, although not necessarily.
    My crime novels are focused more on the general public who enjoys reading psychological crime novels. No age or gender specific.
    Great topic! 🙂

    1. Maybe “normal” wasn’t the best word choice! I’m sure once I get into the (hopefully!) publishing stages of my novel, I’ll gain more experience with this subject, which I’ll apply to future writing. Thanks for the feedback, Carol! 🙂

  23. thank you for finding my blog and following me. Great A, BTW. I never really compared writing in say my legal career and my creative writing. But back then of course there was an audience. Now I don’t consciously write for anyone but me but the important word is consciously. Looking back there is an element of self censorship going on, esp on the blog. So I guess I do have an audience in mind.

    1. Consciously. Yes, a very important word. Since this blog post I have been considering this topic a great deal, and am definitely wondering if I SUBconsciously write for certain audiences (e.g., my poetry geared towards nature lovers, my blog posts for this challenge addressed to fellow writers, my travel writing directed towards vacationers, etc.). I love going back and reading the comments and gaining a new perspective at how I look at these various topics!

  24. I’m having trouble getting the words out the way I want to be so I’m just going to write this and hope it makes sense.

    The audience is always there. If you’re just writing for you, you become the audience. I know that’s not where you were going with this but I believe it’s important to note that. In my writing, sometimes I do write with a specific audience in mind. I know a point will resonate with certain readers more than others and sometimes I do that on purpose. Other times, I write whatever it is that is in my mind. I’m true to myself but not at the expense of my readers. I still try to present it in an interesting or funny way.

    I could make the same points in a very dry and determined manner but not even I want to read that.

    1. The idea of “you” becoming the audience is one that I actually discussed with a friend the other day. Since writing this post I have thought about this topic quite a bit, and I’ve come to realize that even with the pieces that I don’t “think” I’m directing to a target audience, when I step back I realize that I am, subconsciously, trying to connect with SOME group of individuals. Who that group is, who that audience is, is typically based on the content (poetry, random rants and musings, posts in this challenge, etc.).

      Great feedback!! 🙂

  25. I operate under the premise that I’m writing for a specific audience. If I want to sell my books, then I’m writing for an audience. Period. If I’m writing just for me, there’s no real reason to publish the book. It’s the audience that drives me to publish, that drives me to produce the most scintillating storyline I can conceive. I picture my audience when I’m plotting the story. I’m imagining their gasps when I have a plot twist. And when the characters do something dumb or unexpected, I picture my audience throwing the book across the room. 🙂 Yes, I’m dramatic like that. ha!

    1. That is a valid point. I’m certain that as I progress more with my novel, my views on audience will change and adapt and I will focus more on an audience as my book evolves and develops further.

  26. This was really interesting as I’ve never thought of an audience before. With my picture books and junior fiction chapter book I write for a set audience (obviously children!) but when I write my flash fiction I don’t have an audience in mind, I just write whatever comes to mind!

  27. For me, It really depends on what I’m writing. Like you, I do writing at work that almost always has a very specific audience. My blog posts usually have a nebulous intended audience. I like to think I’m writing to those who read my fiction. My fiction is a totally different story. I write stories I’d want to read. So I don’t really try to tailor that for a specific audience, even when I’m editing and revising.

  28. Great post topic!

    I write the books I want to read, and I think I’ve been lucky that they’ve turned out to be books other people want to read, too. It they didn’t… well, I’d still have books I like. 🙂

    I never write for An Audience. I think that would lead to a feeling of failure if the audience didn’t embrace the work. As it is, when someone says, “I wish you’d focused less on the romance aspect,” I can accept that because the book they wanted isn’t the one I wanted to write, and that’s okay. I wasn’t writing it for THEM, I was writing it for myself and the people who love what I do. If they say, “your writing sounds too modern for proper Fantasy,” I san smile and remember that I freaking HATE Fantasy written in heavy, old language, and I’ve written the book I thought needed to exist. I wrote the book I intended to.

    I do make changes based on early reader and editor suggestions to create a better version of a story, but I’ve never based my characters, plot, or premise on what’s popular or what people are supposed to like.

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