Well, should writers always be aware of the audience?
I am going to disagree with Erickson here and say “no” – or at least “not always.”
First, you sometimes simply want to write for yourself.
You may write a book that you think you can sell. Or you may write a blog post that you think might pique the interest of a given audience.
But often, writers are drawn to exploring ideas and themes that they care about – regardless of the audience’s reception.
I mean, I do that all the time here. Here is a piece I thought people might enjoy.
And here is one I did because
I cared about it.
Second, it’s hard to know what readers are going to choose to care about.
In my observation, it’s more about timing and a little bit of luck than amazing content.
You put your heart in an article that no one reads – and then a post of a nonsense picture you took becomes one of the most popular things on your blog.
Honestly, very few of us know what we are doing.
I think that, in the end – it’s mostly practice.
If you are stuck: Document, don’t create.
We writers have big egos, and sometimes it’s hard for us to remember that our purpose is not to build monuments to ourselves, but rather to communicate. Yes, our names go on manuscripts and we want to get paid for our work, but we write for someone else. We are translators and interpreters of experience. We should always be aware of the audience, speak to the audience, and respect the audience. If we speak only to ourselves, we have failed to communicate. What makes our writing good is not just that we did it, and put our best effort into it, but that someone else benefited from it.
-John Erickson, Story Craft (Amazon)