As far as I can tell, there are two reasons to write.
- So that other people can read what you have written. Examples of this type of writing are all around us, both on the Internet and in print.
- For your own personal pleasure. Examples of this type of writing could be a diary that you never intend to publish or poems written on scraps of paper that you never intend to publish.
If you are writing for the second reason, you may want to skip the rest of this post. Put whatever words you like on paper or on your computer, it doesn’t really matter since no one else will see it.
If you, like most of us, are writing with the intent to have others read your work, you may find the rest of this post to be of interest.
I am convinced that people read material for three reasons:
- To get information. Examples of materials that people read for information vary from news articles to encyclopedia articles to the phone book. A very timely example of something that I recently read solely for information purposes is the instructions that came with the tax software that I just purchased.
- To be entertained. Examples of materials that people read for entertainment also vary. This kind of material can include novels, short stories, poems, biographies, and even lists of trivia.
- Both of the above. The reader is especially rewarded when the material they are reading serves to both entertain and inform. Think how much better I would have retained the instructions for the tax software if they were more entertaining.
As writers who write to be read, our job is to figure out why a reader would read whatever it is that we are writing. Once we figure this out, we need to be sure and deliver what it is that we believe the reader needs.
If we think that our reader needs information from our writing, we need to deliver that information in a manner that is concise and easily understood. If we think that our reader is looking for entertainment from our writing, we need to make our material as entertaining as possible.
These points may seem obvious, and, in fact, they are obvious. However, in the rush of getting work and meeting deadlines, it is easy for both new and seasoned writers to forget that they are not writing for themselves.
I hope that this post serves as a gentle reminder for both new and seasoned writers.
Contents (c) Copyright 2007, Laura Spencer. All rights reserved.