Forget the audience: Write for yourself

Every winter, I faithfully read William Zinsser’s “On writing well.” This classic book tells me not to think too hard of the mass audience. In fact, Zinsser says there is no such audience because every reader is different.

He encourages us to write for our enjoyment mastering the craft of writing and how you can use the craft to express who you are. Mastering the craft is a mechanical chore while expressing your attitude requires creativity.

But who can do both with melancholy? None other than E.B. White! Here’s an excerpt from his essay “Death of a pig.”

He came out of the house to die. When I went down, before going to bed, he lay stretched in the yard a few feet from the door. I knelt, saw that he was dead, and left him there: his face had a mild look, expressive neither of deep peace nor of deep suffering, although I think he suffered a good deal.” Death of a Pig. – E.B. White.

This winter, you may want to master another tool as you write for yourself. Don’t forget to read The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White. “I treasure The Elements of Style for its sharp advice, but I treasure it even more for the audacity and self-confidence of its author,” White said of the great grammarian and his teacher at Cornell, William Strunk, Jr.

2 thoughts on “Forget the audience: Write for yourself

  1. Yup. For me, you either write for yourself (and inevitably an audience who shares the exact same likes as you do), or for a very specific person. Trying to write something to please everybody will just end up in a piece that’s neither here nor there. Thanks for sharing!

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