“Am I writing for myself or am I writing for the reader?” It’s a loaded question. One that has many different angles of approach. William Zinsser, author of, On Writing Well says, “You are writing for yourself … every reader is a different person.” (Zinsser, 2019) Everyone is different, so why cater to someone that is not you. You don’t know if they will like it but if you do then why worry about someone else?
Personally, I think it depends on what you are writing about. I learned in high school that you need to write the way the teachers want you to, otherwise you won’t get the best grade. It’s the same way in college. If I want to excel in some of my classes I have to write for my professor, the topic and the style needs to be approved. I have never enjoyed writing papers that had a preassigned topic. Picking the topic myself always made me enjoy writing just that much more, because I got to influence at least one part of the assignment.
If I’m writing a blog post or I’m writing a story that I enjoy then I will write it the way I want to. With short sentences for emphasis. With run on sentences. And I would start a sentence with “and,” because I can and no one can tell me that it’s “wrong.” If I like that I write then I am proud of what I am writing. Zinsser wrote, “you are who you are … be yourself when you write.” (Zinsser, 2016) I could not agree more.
I believe writing is your version of spoken words. Everyone speaks differently and expresses themselves differently. Why can’t it be the same in written language?
Overall, I agree with Zinsser that the audience is yourself. If you don’t enjoy or at least like what you are writing then you won’t feel proud of it. If you aren’t proud of it then you won’t want your name attached to it. If you enjoy it then you are more likely to want to share it with other people. If other people don’t like it, it shouldn’t matter. It’s the same in life. If people don’t like you then you just move on and look for the people that do.
I also understand that people are paid to write for corporations, to advertise, scientific journals and much more. They can’t write for themselves, because it isn’t self expression. But they can add their opinions and make it fun to write but that is up to the person who is writing. Everyone has their own opinion.
Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: the Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. HarperCollins, 2016.