Write for yourself or write for others?

Author: Haritha, Learner, Integral School


People will throw all sorts of advice at you when it comes to creative expression or just plain essay writing. Do you sculpt your writing in such a manner that it caters to the readers or do you write in the way that comes naturally to you, letting the audience decide for themselves whether they like it or not? In an ideal state of mind I would, hands down, choose the second option but some things are not as simple as they seem.

The incentive to write is what is important. If your incentive is to simply have fun, then writing for yourself seems the obvious choice. However, if your incentive is to spread a certain piece of information, then writing while keeping an audience in mind makes more sense. My incentive to write seems to change based on the circumstances. When you are learning English composition, you cannot stubbornly insist that you will write only in a casual style. When you are learning, it seems beneficial to practice different styles and construct your writing to appeal to a certain audience. This way your mind can become malleable and versatile. Both points of view have their pros and cons and in a hope to make my incentives clear I will try to lay them out.

When you write for an audience, you have to think about many factors — What age is your audience? What type of information is appropriate for them? What kind of content will impress them? There is a lot of analyzing involved while writing for an audience, and this scrutinizing can develop your mind. As I mentioned before, it can widen one’s horizons. Writing for an audience also forces you to venture out of your comfort zone. I, for one, am a fan of writing in a sarcastic and colloquial style. I tend to write all my essays in this style, but my selectiveness limits my opportunities to find other styles that may be more effective at expressing my thoughts. By keeping an audience in mind and writing about things out of my wheelhouse, my learning opportunities increase.

Aside from broadening horizons and becoming more adaptable, writing for an audience allows you to spread information in a more effective way. By giving the audience what they want, the chances of them internalising the information and agreeing with your point of view are higher. I know I am looking at this from a very economic perspective, which, on retrospect, does not suit the situation perfectly. The audience as we know are human beings, each with an individual personality. Human beings cannot be categorized and presumed to come under certain stereotypes. The truth is that we will never know exactly what the audience wants as a unit. We will never know how to please every single person in the audience, and that is where writing for an audience can turn into a headache.

What often happens is that one writes for an audience in order to get approval in some form or the other. It is an unpleasant personality trait, but present in some of us none the less. If the audience likes your piece of writing, a part of you might get caught up in that whirlwind — do they like it ? After a while, your creative expression begins to hinge on the approval of the audience, and you yearn for all of your work to be accepted by this diverse set of people. It is a rollercoaster that never ends and ultimately leaves you disappointed. The more you write while constructing the content to suit an audience, the more you lose yourself to the fickle system of feeding off approval. Needless to say, writing for an audience can suck the fun out and make the process a drag.

Writing for yourself and letting the right audience find your work, has its own difficulties. For one, it is hard to listen to the criticism people will have to offer. The audience that reads your work might not like it, which could injure your self esteem. It is much easier to write in the manner that they prefer so that you escape the disapproval, but ease is no reason to resort to writing for an audience. Once again, your incentive to write holds a large weight. If you write because you love to write, writing for yourself will bring you satisfaction. Chances are that you do not love to write, and that is perfectly acceptable, but whether you love to write or not, there will be times when you have a need to write, and then what? Which approach do you take? My mind seems to tell me that the ethical choice would be to write for yourself, because I feel that your best work comes out when you completely forget about people (and what they might think) and write what comes naturally to you. It should not be forced, and having to meet certain criteria (for example, an audience’s preferences) would close the channel through which your original thoughts flow.

I think I have managed to convince myself that one option is more suitable where creative expression is concerned — Write for yourself and don’t worry about the audience. Even though I choose writing for one’s self, I still feel that it is important to analyse your incentive. If I had to submit an assignment which specifically asked to impress a certain audience, then I think it is in my best interest to follow the guidelines. I don’t think I am radical enough to disregard assignments. At least not yet.


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