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The Fiction Writer's Tug of War: You vs Your Audience—Who Wins?

The Fiction Writer's Tug of War - You vs Your Audience—Who Wins, on The Writer's Cabin Blog

Writing for Yourself or for Your Audience: Is it a Personal or Monetary Endeavor?

There has been a long-running debate among writers about whether to write for yourself or for your audience.

As someone who writes pretty much only for myself and publishes others' work for almost exclusively financial reasons (and for my love of books), I have grappled with this question quite a bit.

On the one hand, and in my opinion, naturally, fiction writing can be an incredibly fulfilling process. And making authentic stories that ask the hard questions and help you find meaning and purpose in life creates a far more rewarding result than writing as pure business ever could.

On the other hand, writing for the reader makes it much easier to fill a market demand and grow an audience and, well….make some money so you can maybe do this full time someday.

So today, I'll be exploring this topic and the merits of both approaches and maybe offer some insights into why I believe writing for (primarily) yourself will be the more satisfying choice over the long haul.

But I also realize not all people are like me, so I will give you some reasons to disagree with that last statement as well.


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Does the Distinction Even Matter?

Ok. So, I have had the opportunity, or maybe privilege is a better word, to have gotten a close-up perspective on the careers of many writers with different skill levels. Each of them with a unique approach to storytelling, each having different goals and taking different paths to reach (or fail to reach) those goals.

Over the years, I have witnessed the evolution of the fiction landscape and the ups and downs of being an author beholden to fans, editors, publishers, and more.

I have also witnessed authors in it strictly for the audience excel and fail, and authors who have written only for themselves also excel and fail (or never get a single book to market in the first place). But there is one striking difference between these two types of authors that I will reveal to you a little later on.

But for now, I want to make it clear that, yes—this matters.

This discussion lies at the heart of every author's creative journey, and it's a topic that I'm sure resonates with many of you.

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, at least understanding this dynamic will be crucial to your career's future direction. It can shape the way you approach your craft and ultimately influence the stories you tell.

For the seasoned author out there, this article may serve as a reflective piece, encouraging you to reassess your own motivations and the connection you wish to forge with your readers.

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Writing for Yourself

Writing is, at its core, an intimate journey of self-expression. It's a means to channel your thoughts, emotions, and experiences into a medium that transcends time and space.

For me, it is a means to get closure, heal trauma, discover things about myself, and explore my relationships with other humans. Or just a means to understand other humans.

When you write for yourself, you set yourself on a path that's deeply personal and meaningful for you. It gives you a deeper sense of purpose, making the act of writing something to strive toward, not just something to get you to an end result.

Related Posts >>> Why Write? Finding Meaning Through Fiction and Getting Motivation to Write

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