Writing for an Audience vs. Expression of an Idea

When do you start taking the audience into account during your writing process?  With most writers, one day they want their creative writing to be read.  Ideally, to be read by strangers in some officially published format.  (It’s great when our parents and friends read our work on the computer screen, but I don’t think that this is usually the end goal).

Do you ever pick a particular audience (or literary journal) and write specifically for them, selecting an idea you know they would be interested in?  Or do you write the story tickling your fancy at the moment and edit it later with the intended audience in mind?  When I write for younger readers, I usually go back and edit.  I’ll cut out references that they probably won’t catch, sometimes I tone down curse words, and I usually have to tweak the voice of the narrator to make them sound younger by using more age-appropriate vocabulary.  But mostly, I just express the idea and develop the characters haunting the corners of my brain, constructing them the way they naturally develop without considering how the audience will like them.  Maybe you never consider the audience at all.  You just write for yourself, or you’re only interested in attracting readers who share your similar interests.

In theory, maybe we’d all get published more if we wrote for intended audiences.  But then it makes our writing feel more like a product than a crafted piece of art.  And no writer wants to consider their writing a cheap commodity.

 

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Writing for an Audience vs. Expression of an Idea

  1. vanderjohn says:

    I think writers should always try to take on the “greats” of any field. For nonfiction writers, I suppose this means directly taking on the ideas of the great nonfiction writers. For fiction and other forms of art, a more indirect approach may be called for. Either way, I think it is important to learn what readers value the most, and to create that.

    Then again, there’s no rule that says an artist must create for an audience other than him or herself. Just a thought.

  2. hannahkarena says:

    I think that taking on the greats is a stage in writing where you’re learning through imitation. I can go through some of my old stories and totally tell that I was really into Neil Gaiman’s works at the time, or had just finished reading I Am the Messenger. I hope that as I get better as I writer, I start writing something and taking on ideas that nobody else has explored before–or, at least, not in the cool innovative way that I’m doing it, lol. Writers can dream, I suppose.

    I think I lean towards the idea of creating the art first and hoping it finds it’s own audience.

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