A good chunk of writing advice centers on “knowing your audience.” Aspiring writers might be told, think about who you want your audience to be, and write it for them. But what if you don’t know who your audience is? How do you find out? The answer is: You don’t, yet. Right now, this writing is private, just for you.
You might keep it that way if it’s a journal or a hobby. Or you might be writing with the intent to publish. Either way, if you are an unpublished author right now, you are lucky. You get to practice in peace. To write too much or not enough. To make mistakes. To not worry about what the critics will say, or what your fans’ expectations are. Yes, it’s lovely to imagine you have fans, but it’s also good to know that unless you choose, not a single person ever has to read anything you write.
Sometimes, it’s not about publication. I am writing with the hopes that my book will be published. However, I decided that writing is just something I love. Even if it NEVER gets published, I will continue to write. And for the time being, I will continue to submit my work. Have you ever seen The Office? I’m paraphrasing here, but when Michael starts his own paper company, he tells his old bosses David and Charles that if this company goes down, he will start another, and ANOTHER. He has ENDLESS NAMES for paper companies.
THAT’S how I feel about writing. If this book doesn’t get published, I’m still going to write another. And ANOTHER. Because I love to write. Even if it’s private, just for me.
You might be just starting out. You will discover your audience over time. But again, that’s if you even want an audience.
“In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?” – Rainer Maria Rilke.