To write a factual book or a fictional tale and get those all-important first lines down, you need to know that you are not writing for anyone but yourself.
I’ve read many books about writing that urge potential authors to write for their readers and I’m pretty sure this concept was started by writers who didn’t want competition! For a start, a writer hasn’t a clue who their readers are going to be. Not in the literal sense. Not immediately. That only becomes clear when they’ve got a good outline and substantial plotline drawn up.
Of course, if someone who has written a book doesn’t want to publish then it really doesn’t matter. But, if the publishing route is pursued then, of course, a book needs to be written and edited to appeal to a reader.
But first, stop and think about it.
If a writer thinks about their reader, they won’t or can’t write.
That inevitable ‘block’ comes into force. The brain freeze begins as fear of rejection takes hold and all those wonderful imagination-filled brain cells fly out the window. In the initial stages, when a writer stops to consider the reader, all passion disappears and the heart of the story tends to be squashed. The business of writing takes over.
However, when a writer doesn’t think about what a reader wants to read and, instead, writes about what is in their own heart – then they keep on writing and writing and writing.
They don’t know how or even when to stop as it simply pours out of them.
Of course, as a potential author, you do need to think of your reader. But, only when you’ve got an idea firmly fixed in your mind about what you want to write and then, again, after you have written what you want to write.
To get your writing written, you need to stop worrying about seeing it in a published form.
Just write because you enjoy it.
In the writing process, there need be only two places that you need to think of the reader:
(a) At the beginning
Think of the reader when you get your initial ideas, not from a sales point of view, but from the point of view of three things mentioned earlier:
Your sole goal is to get going with the writing.
If you want to be a published author, before you start to write you’ll need to consider the market you want to aim for, the style, and the approach you need to tackle.
For instance, if you’re writing a romance novel, you’ll need to consider what readers are reading in that section of the book publishing world.
Every writer wants to produce something ‘different’. But there’s no point in producing a piece of work that is so far removed from what currently sells that it doesn’t stand a chance of being given a passing glance.
Think about why you want to become an author. Do you want to sell your work, now, in this day and age, and perhaps even manage to live off the proceeds? Or would you like to be ‘remembered’ as a writer ahead of their time? If the notion of a penniless author during your lifetime appeals, then go for it.
(b) At the end
Once you have poured out your heart, your passion has dissipated and you’ve written all you can write, that is the only time to go back over what you have written and think of what your reader wants.
Then you can begin the edit process.
In between (a) and (b), all you do is write.
Kay, you have no idea how this article has helped to propel me to the writing table. I have never thought of myself as a writer, author, (do you have to be considered an author if you write?) I never have, yet I love to write, and I have started 3 books, but they are collecting dust. I did finish one, a children’s book, self publishing but the expense was too much. I did provide an article I wrote to Chaos to Clarity, published by two of our Columnists, and that is the extent. Thank you for instilling in me the understanding to write for myself and not for others, yet, hoping what I write will have an impact on many.
Kaye: To put it another way it depends on whether the writer is simply trying to empty their soul or write as a business. Many writers simply do it as a business…i.e. series books, and in that case, they most certainly need to write for an audience.
Thanks Ken, you took the words out of my mouth. I totally agree with you AND the type of writing you mentioned is exactly my profession. Thanks again.