What’s The Main Focus For Your Writing? Results Of Reader Survey

by Joanna on June 4, 2008

I ran a reader survey here last week as part of this month’s writing with purpose theme.

There was just one question: what’s the main focus for your writing? Either the writing you’re doing, or the writing you want to be doing.

There were 8 prompts you could choose from, or “other” (to define your own). The prompts were 1. blog writing 2. writing to promote my business 3. non-fiction writing 4. fiction 5. poetry 6. writing for self-expression 7. business writing 8. academic writing / student essays.

Here are the results from the 58 readers who took part in the survey:

Survey Findings

Survey Findings

Survey Findings

34% Blog writing (20 readers)

17% Fiction (10 readers)

14% Self expression (8 readers)

9% Business writing (5 readers)

9% Other (see below) (5 readers)

7% Non-fiction writing (4 readers)

3% Poetry (2 readers)

3% Academic / student essays (2 readers)

3 % Writing to promote my business (2 readers)

The ‘others’ included: blog posts, resumes and articles; technical writing; writing to help you think and see more clearly; writing about local politics; and an honest ‘not much focus’!

Some people added that they would have liked to have ticked more than one box (me too), or that they had secondary points of focus like academic writing or travel writing.

What I Learned From The Survey

I guess the thing that surprised me most from the survey was how many of you are focused on fiction writing… because I don’t ‘cover’ fiction here in any shape or form…

But when I mentioned this to my blogging friend Amy Palko she pointed out that writing fiction perhaps takes more of a leap of faith, more confidence, more determination to write with purpose, to come boldly to the page, to fire up your words like the fire breathing writing dragon that you are. And that the words I’m penning here might be helping you to do just that. (I hope so.)

The other main point for me is the emphasis on blog writing. I think maybe I should relax a bit more about this one - I try not to write too much about blogging (as there are so many other blogs doing just that) but if it’s so much part of what brings us together here perhaps I’m limiting myself unnecessarily. Plus learning how to blog with confidence has so many spill over benefits for other forms of writing, don’t you think?

The Power Of Questions

The other thing I learned was about the power of questions. (I haven’t forgotten the promise to write some posts on how to frame powerful questions - next week I hope.)

The response in the comment box was fascinating. People talked about hints, prompts and questions that were helping them to get total clarity on their writing purpose (and writing dreams); how their answer to the question had got them thinking because it wasn’t what they thought the answer “should” be; how they’d realised they’d lost focus but that thinking through their purpose - the bigger picture of what they were trying to do - had helped them get things back into view.

I’ve also had some feedback in the week that followed about what you’ve done with that learning: getting back into the writing groove again, or changing the focus for one writing outlet to create more room for another.

Of course this is what good coaching questions are supposed to lead to… reflection, realisation, energy, action… but I wasn’t expecting it on the back of this first experimental survey!

A good reminder to myself to take care, always, with my own words and to remember how much weight my words - and your words - can carry.

Thanks And One More Question

Thanks very much to everyone who took part and helped me to learn more about all of you.

The last question is this:

What strikes you most from the survey findings? Is it a pattern that reflects what you were expecting… or what you knew of the people you’ve met here?

I ran the survey through Survey Monkey. It ran for 8 days (from May 26 through to 3rd June). 58 readers took part.

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Nadine Touzet 06.04.08 at 8:27 am

Hi Joanna,

I didn’t take part in your survey as I was too busy last week to read any blogs.

I am definitely in the ‘Blog’ category, for my own writing (and that’s not even in my mother tongue). I suppose ‘translating’ could be in the ‘Other’ category. Although translating means processing someone else’s words, some document types entail some personal choices: translating marketing and other stuff.

Ulla 06.04.08 at 10:03 am

Hi Joanna,
I took part in your survey and am in the “Blog” category, and like Nadine - I am not writing in my mother tongue. Although you say that blog writing is not your main focus, I regularly visit your blog because - as you say -to blog with confidence is one of my most important aims, and I would very much like to read more about that on your blog. As far as I know there is no german blog which covers confident writing - so you are a great source of knowledge to me.

Brad Shorr 06.04.08 at 12:35 pm

Hi Joanna, if we assume people with similar interests tend to gravitate to the same blogs, your results are not that surprising, though I didn’t expect quite so many fiction writers.

Karen Swim 06.04.08 at 3:22 pm

Hi Joanna, I took part in the survey and I am one who definitely would have ticked more than one category. I am not surprised by the number of fiction writers. Many of the bloggers I have interacted with all share the love of storytelling. I believe that your site provides us with information that can be applied to all types of writing. I use your coaching in my blog writing, fiction writing and business writing. Powerful, purposeful writing is not limited by genre. I am truly looking forward to learning this month. Thank you Joanna for the willingness to coach us to become our very best.

Joanna Young 06.04.08 at 8:58 pm

Hi Nadine, thanks for sharing your writing focus even so.

I really admire you - and others - for blogging in a language that’s not your mother tongue. Thanks for reminding me of that dimension of confident blogging.


Joanna Young 06.04.08 at 9:00 pm

Hi Ulla, and thanks for the encouragement to keep on writing about how to blog with confidence. As I said to Nadine I think you’re already doing just that by blogging in a non-native tongue… but I’ll happily keep looking for ways to boost impact, motivation and confidence.


Joanna Young 06.04.08 at 9:03 pm

Brad, of course we all do, consciously or otherwise, make assumptions, but like good intentions assumptions can lead us astray… which is why it’s good to test them sometimes.

The fiction aspect was the part that surprised me most too.


PS Thanks for prompting me to run the survey monkey survey with your word nerd quiz. Been thinking about it for a while but that prompted me into action

Joanna Young 06.04.08 at 9:04 pm

Karen, I love getting your comments. I don’t know if you realise this but you turbo-charge my confidence! Thanks, once again.


Bo 06.05.08 at 6:29 am

I love the idea of “blogging with confidence”. And I also wish the survey had allowed for multiple responses. I consider myself a poet, and I put the most effort and time into my poetry so I marked poetry, but I write fiction and blog on a daily basis,too.

A question I think would be an interesting one to ask, Joanna - how much time do people spend on their writing. I wonder how many of your readers own a daily writing practice? Might be interesting.

And I was happy to see there was another poet on your chart. I thought I might be the only one… :-)

Joanna Young 06.05.08 at 10:37 am

Bo, thanks for the feedback. I was trying to keep the survey simple as it was the first one I’d done, but I think you’re right, most of us would have wanted to tick more than one box.

The other questions are valuable too - I’ll store them for future ref.

The people who took part are only 1/10 of the people who read… which means there’s sure to be some other poets out there :-)


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