When and How to Write for Yourself or for Your Audience

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

You love stories. That’s why you’re on Medium, as a reader and as a writer. You’ve got a story to tell. Many, actually. But have you noticed that there’s a lot of advice out there to write for the reader instead of writing for yourself?

I have. And I’m here to tell you, you can do both. These days, there are so many formats, platforms, mediums (pun intended) and types of writing. So, there are definitely times when each audience (either you or a group of readers) is appropriate.

But how do you know when to write for yourself versus when to write for a reader? The answer depends on the purpose behind your writing.

Let’s begin by exploring some good reasons to write for yourself.

There’re plenty of ways we all write for our own eyes, often without even thinking about it. We keep grocery lists, to-do lists, diaries, calendars, notes and more. (Yes, these examples do count as writing.)

I want to talk about a type of writing that is very important to me, for deeply personal reasons. (Don’t worry, I won’t get into all the nitty-gritty, emotional “woo-woo” in this article.)

Suffice it to say that one of my favorite forms of writing is journaling.

I keep a journal to track my thoughts, to check in with myself, and to express my deepest desires and emotions. All in the privacy of my own journal. A notebook can be a sanctuary from the world. A place to escape to, a comfort in times of hardship or just plain boredom.

In my experience, journaling allows me to talk to myself, without literally talking to myself. (Not saying I don’t do that too, sometimes.)

Journaling lets me express myself in ways that society, or those near me, might not appreciate. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s just that my journal gives me a place to be myself, to check in with my feelings and to talk myself down from difficult emotions sometimes.

Those are just some of the benefits I enjoy from keeping a journal.

Writing for an audience is different from writing in a journal for one simple reason: it serves a different purpose. What that purpose is, depends on what you want to get from it. (More on that, later.)

With the internet, there are now more ways than ever to share your writing with other people. And it’s really easy, too. But before you jump in and start writing, let’s consider some of the reasons for sharing your writing with the world.

First, like with journaling, you could be looking for self-expression. But unlike journaling, writing for an audience should serve more than just your own self-interests.

Even if you’re writing on a deeply personal issue (which can be highly impactful for a lot of people), you need to write for the reader.

This means that, at some point in your writing process, you need to ask yourself:

  1. What do I want the reader to take away from this piece?
  2. How do I want the reader to feel after reading this piece?
  3. What do I want the reader to do after reading this?

Second, you could write for an audience in order to sell them a product or service. This is known as copywriting, and it is done to persuade the reader to make a purchase.

A related writing type is content marketing writing, which involves writing helpful articles that promote a brand or business in a more discrete way.

And finally, you could write for an audience to make money. This benefit is self-explanatory. But it’s worth noting that the questions I listed above apply here, too. To make money writing, you need to make sure your writing serves your readers.

I know, you want it all, right? You want the best of both worlds. You want all (or most) of the benefits of writing for both yourself and for your readership.

Good news! You really can have it all. It just takes a little bit of planning.

I like to include journaling in my morning and evening routines and then have a schedule for work-related writing (like this post) during the day.

Here’s my writing schedule, as an example:

6:30 a.m. wake up

6:45 a.m. 20-minute at-home yoga routine

7:05 a.m. listen to a 10-minute guided meditation

7:15 a.m. shower, get dressed and ready for the day




12:30 p.m. Household responsibilities (cleaning, etc.) until dinnertime

8:00 p.m. Evening routine may include JOURNAL WRITING (or binging Netflix, whatever).

So, there you are. You really can have it all!

What types of writing do you do?

Get my FREE 5-day email course for entrepreneurs, Focus Your Vision into a Plan, for journaling tips & prompts: https://amyhartsough.ck.page/free-course

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