When you sit down to write, who do you write for? Who is your audience?
This post is written for you, my blog audience. My novel is written for YA fantasy readers.
But when we sit down to write, how do we decide who to write for?
For example, when I sit down to write Checkmate, I could write for my friend who likes dragons or my brother who loves Lord of the Rings.
But I can’t please everyone who might read my book. And sometimes I just want to write what I want. Is that okay?
Who should we write for?
This should be no surprise, but I’m afraid it has become a clichéd answer in Christian circles.
Everything we do should ultimately be to bring God glory. (1 Cor. 10:31) That includes our writing—blogging, fan fiction, poetry, etc.
But how do we know if our writing is pleasing to God?
Well, are you obeying Him with your writing? Are you secretly writing something you know your parents wouldn’t approve of? Are you writing to bring yourself the praise and honor? Are you writing something that bothers your conscience just because it’s popular?
Jaquelle Crowe, author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years, once defined glorifying God this way: “I believe it means to make God look good. He is worthy and great, and if I use my life to make that known, I am glorifying Him. We can do that through what we post on social media, what food we eat, what job we get, and what we write.”
What we write and how we write it reflects on our confession of faith. If unbelievers stumble across our writing and find out that we use just as much language as the next guy and glorify sin like everyone else, God is dishonored.
Titus 2 speaks about how Christians should act. In verse 5, Paul tells us we should live in a God-honoring way, “so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
I can see your shocked expression.
Yes, the second person you should write for is yourself.
Because if you don’t enjoy what you are writing, then no one else will.
“But,” you might say, “Jerry Jenkins says ‘Always think reader first.’ And lots of other writers say the same kind of thing. But you’re saying to write for yourself before readers, isn’t that selfish?”
I once heard a piece of advice from Douglas Bond: “Write out of your own self-need.”
Your best writing is when you are writing what you need—not what you think others want.
Don’t be afraid to write something that’s out of “style” or everyone says is cliché.
Write what you want. Maybe you’ll be the only one who reads it, maybe it will never get past a circle of close friends, but if you enjoyed writing it, you succeeded.
And now we get to readers. They make up the largest part of your audience.
We could talk a lot about readers. But I just want to leave you with one point.
You can’t please everyone.
Your favorite book might be your brother’s nightmare. My favorite blog might have you moaning in agony.
Your story might be your best friend’s dream novel, but be epically boring to your mom.
And that’s okay.
Everyone has different tastes. And just because someone (no matter how mean they were in their comments) didn’t like your writing, that doesn’t mean your story is bad.
Just like some people love coffee and others absolutely loath even the smell. No one group of people is wrong.
So, when you are writing, aim to please God above all else. Then write something you enjoy. Finally, write for your readers, but remember that your words are not for everyone.
Did my second point surprise you? Have you read anything by Jaquelle Crowe?