Who are you writing for?

There are so many different reasons to write.  Some are about our intended audience, our readership and the impact we hope to make: sharing ideas, conveying information, changing minds, telling stories.  But some are most definitely about the benefits for us, the writers.

Writing to clarify our ideas, to throw emotions down onto a page, to calm a storm of troubled thoughts.  Writing to help us know what we know.  As Joan Didion said:

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.  What I want and what I fear.”

I was reminded of this with Rosa’s follow up post to our conversation on the “noise” of blogging, and how to avoid it.  In sharing her practice of combining a private blog and journalling Rosa also reminded me of an important - and often hidden - dimension of what we do.  Write in order to learn from ourselves.

‘The “Master” you learn from is you.’ she says. ‘The “1 Person” you blog for is you.’

It’s an intriguing, but also a challenging thought.  I try and write this Confident Writing blog in a way that will be helpful and useful for other people.  It’s written very much with you, the reader in mind.  And yet I often enjoy ‘discovering’ what I didn’t realise I knew about the process and practice of writing.  My Coaching Wizardry site is by its nature more dreamy and reflective - and I am well aware that the person who probably gets the most from me chewing over these philosophical chestnuts is myself…

Does this make the exercise more, or less, worthwhile?  Does it strike you as self-indulgent to write in order to learn?  Or necessary - essential even - as part of our journey towards understanding: of our selves, our words, and our worlds?

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2 Responses to “Who are you writing for?”

  1. On April 6, 2009 at 12:03 am Matt Hayward responded with... #

    An interesting thought indeed, Joanna.

    I think that when I write I do so for the creative process *I* have to go through to reach my intended goal. I find I learn, through experimentation, a wide array of different methodologies, and often will surprise myself if a word pops into my head I didn’t know I knew, and it was the right word in the right place.

    The discovery of that lets me learn more as I study the word a little. Self-indulgent? Most definitely. Also essential? I would say so.

    And not just for our own learning, but for whoever our target audience is. I’ve noticed a few entries where you mention authenticity: Those moments where, as a writer, we’re being self-indulgent are perfect subconscious examples of that.

    For people who want to learn and enjoy it, if that is achieved in writing, it adds a certain passion and element of fun that is transferred to the reader. Giving a much better experience for all involved.

    If that all makes sense, that is. I may not have been as clear as I had hoped here.

  2. On April 7, 2009 at 6:28 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Matt, it makes sense :-) Thanks


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