Discussion topic: How much do you think about your readers as you write?

I was reading the latest issue of Writer’s Digest, which has an interview with Nicholas Sparks. One of the questions they asked Sparks was: “How much do you think about your readers as you write?”

His answer: “Not so much as I write, but as I conceive a story, they’re certainly in my mind, because I write stories that I want the readers to enjoy. And I think that is probably one of the main elements of writing that young writers will hopefully take to heart. And that is to write what readers want to read, which isn’t necessarily what you want to write.”

I’m not sure I agree with Spark’s final statement, that is to “write what readers want to read, which isn’t necessary what you want to write.”

What are your thoughts? Should writers–especially young aspiring authors as Sparks mentions–write for the reader, even if that means writing something they are not necessarily interested in?

2 thoughts on “Discussion topic: How much do you think about your readers as you write?”

  1. As a historical fiction author, I must say that I have to enjoy what I am writing – or else my writing will turn into mush – and my readers will know it. I agree that we should think of our reader’s enjoyment as we write. But as a writer, one has to enjoy what one is writing – or else we are just selling out. Take an example of Aileen G. Baron, who is an author in her old age, who was a professor of archeology and is now writing novels. We should write with the same enjoyment.

  2. Nicholas, I completely agree with you. Years ago, I tried taking a short story I had written and turning it into a feature length novel. It was great as a short story, but once I got about 18 pages into the novel, I realized I was bored with it. There was no way I could have written an entire novel about something I wasn’t interested in. I couldn’t maintain it, even though it may have had appeal to a certain audience. That’s when I switched to writing the novel I’m currently working on. If it never sells, that’s ok, because I’ve enjoyed writing about a subject I enjoy: medieval history.

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