I’ve been thinking a lot about why writers write, lately. And as I’ve considered the many motivators, audience emerges over and over again. It seems true that the more we grow and develop as writers, the more audience becomes important to us. At least we have an ever-increasing awareness, on some level, of our perceived or potential readership. I’m speaking of audience in a pretty general way, in this case: the idea of an audience, before there is a specific project for a specific demographic. The desire to share our work, as writers in any genre, is natural and often a great catalyst.
However, I don’t think a perceived audience is where most of us start. Or where most of us, as writers, started in the beginning. I think what distinguishes thoughtful, motivated writers in the beginning, is the element of play and of possibility. Writers, at square one, enjoy writing for themselves.
And, I don’t think this is something the writer should ever grow out of, as they mature and develop their craft. The addage “know thyself!” is as apt for beginning writers as it is for seasoned ones. Our lives are never static. We don’t grow into something and stay there. From one day to the next, from one month, one year to the next–we shift in so many ways, some infinitesimal, some dramatic. But when you know what makes you tick, what excites or bores you, what motivates and affirms or discourages you, your writing will take on an assertiveness, even when it is full of questions.
Today, I challenge you to write something for yourself. Imagine you are writing to a future you. The you that is sitting alone in a quiet room, waiting for a revelation or a whisper of insight. Use what you know to be true for you in this moment. Write something mundane and simple or write something urgent and complex. Make this challenge your own, break the rules–but write for none but yourself. See what results!