Who are you writing for?

One question that seems to come up again and again in writing forums or books of writing advice is; ‘who are you writing for?’ I guess in most instances they are talking about your ideal reader, as in ‘when you write, who do you wish would read it?’. If that was the intent of the question, I’d say that most of the time I’m imagining myself reading the story as though I had no idea what was going to happen next (don’t tell anyone that I frequently don’t know what’s going to happen next until it’s actually ‘happened’). Choosing someone else as the ideal reader seems presumptuous to me somehow. I guess any reader I got would be ideal.

Anyway, the question also got me thinking about who you are writing for in a more commercial sense. I mean, all the people out there writing short stories that are hard to place or literary novels that have no easy hook are regularly told that their market is shrinking and that they should be thinking more about using their talents elsewhere. But I don’t think it’s that easy. Or that it should be.

Nice work if you can get it, I say. If I thought I’d be good at writing compelling computer games or exciting comics then I’d be doing it. When it comes to crossing genre into ‘growth’ areas for the jobbing writer all I can think is that you need a special kind of talent to be able to write for one genre and skip to another because it’s more popular at the moment.

The writers of comics don’t often start doing it just because they want a quick buck and are trying to be commercial, they do it because the love the immediacy of the form. Just as lit fict writers are enamoured with the style and shape of ‘literary prose’.

This leads me to the depressing idea that, in the commercial sense, I’m probably writing for exactly the same number of people I was in the non-commercial sense. One – and that’s me! ๐Ÿ™‚

7 thoughts on “Who are you writing for?

  1. I write for identification purposes. If someone relates to what I’m writing about that’s cool and all. Most of the time when writing in self-reflection it gives me the opportunity to look at things in black and white and see perhaps what is really going on. I have been asked if I was planning on writing a book about recovery and the answer is no.
    As always I enjoy your posts and hope you have a great day.


    • I think the difference for me is that I write for self reflection, but also for self definition – meaning I want it read even if I say I don’t!

      Hope you have a great day too, and good luck to you and your family.


  2. If I could draw with any skill, I would be writing comic books for certain.
    No matter what I’m writing, I write for me first. I write because I enjoy the craft. I love word play, using uncommon words, writing different styles. I get a lot of pleasure in picking up a piece of mine that I’ve not read in a long while and smiling again.
    Currently I’m writing for publication and that changes things. Now I must consider who the audience is and tighten up where I’d want to digress, or rein in the adjectives that otherwise run wild and choose a specific voice that matches the story.


    • Snag an artist! Hunt one down and tie them to a desk with promises of shared rights and monthly sales if you have to. A foot in the door and most comic publishers will team you up with one anyway.

      I don’t think my style translates well to comics, I find the visual aspect difficult to reconcile with what I write – although I’m partial to reading some of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I know what you mean about picking up old stuff – is there anything cooler than reading something and for a second forgetting that it was you that wrote it?


      • That is pretty cool! I can’t believe I wrote that! Some of the stuff, I don’t think I could do any more. How’d I come up with that?

        Believe me, I am looking for a graphic artist. Primarily for my web professional work to compliment my coding, but if he/she were an illustrator to boot, I would lock them away.


  3. I come from a family of graphic artists – unfortunately I didn’t pick up the skill.

    Comic artists, unless you have some cash up front it’s pretty hard to get them on board huh?

    I hate people that can write and draw. Ok, I don’t hate them, I’m just jealous of them ๐Ÿ™‚


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