Be authentic and write for yourself first

As bloggers, we face a dilemma – do we write about the things that we’re interested in, follow our own interests and write for ourselves? Or do we identify topics that our readers will want to read, and produce work for them, but run the risk of writing something that we have little or no interest in, but will attract an audience? Would that affect the quality of what we write?

This was the debate raging in my head after an episode of Criminal Minds when the quote that popped up asked Cyril Connolly’s question: ‘Is it better to write for self and have no public than to write for the public and have no self?’

What do you think? Do you agree with Connolly? Do you write for yourself or your audience? Or a bit of both?

If we follow our hearts, we remain true to ourselves and retain our authentic voice. That voice should come through in our writing.

If we start out blogging and focus on delivering to an audience, meeting their needs, it can be argued that because we are not writing about our own interests and passions, our own personality can’t come through as strongly. If we take this approach, do we lose ourselves?

I guess that’s the proposition put forward by Connolly. I think most personal bloggers, and those who rely on their own identity and personality professionally would tend to agree. We cannot afford to lose ourselves in our writing. We need to write in our own authentic voice as that’s what our readers expect, and I’m sure they would notice a change in writing style and level of engagement and passion with our writing.

I do wonder, however, if the reality can be a bit more complex. If we start writing for ourselves, being true to our own interest and values/opinions, we will hopefully attract and gain readers and followers who are interested in what we write. Does this mean that as we develop a relationship with our readers and followers/audience we can also write for them because our interests are aligned, we have a vested interest in those relationships, so we may in those circumstances write for the public, but not lose ourselves.

Most of the time I write for me, what motivates and inspires me, but if prompted by my readers, I would consider their interests.

Who do you write for? Would you consider writing for your audience? Please share your ideas in the comments; I’d love to read your thoughts.

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  1. Always write for myself. And, hand on heart, am not a blogger seeking numbers. I played with my band at gigs that had a handful of audience members and they were absolute belters of intimate exchange and fun nature. We, the band, and the audience saw the irony and had an amazing night of dancing and singing together. Cathartic experience is paramount and blogging has become a medium for collecting my years in words. If WordPress ceased to exist I would lose all those memories in the blink of an eye however. No back up! Great topic here. All the best Brenda.

    • Thanks Gray. I’m like you, no back up to what I’ve posted, but I think even if WP wasn’t here, I’d still find some way to get the ideas down on paper/pc – even if they’re not shared with others. I’m finding I have a strong drive to write

      Thanks Gray. Have a good evening.

  2. I believe we write for ourselves – which I do. However, I can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting to grab a large audience. My blog helps me organize my thoughts. Obviously I can do that privately, but my hope is that by sharing of myself it will help others do the same – perhaps they will see the benefits as well. I think it provides an opportunity for community when people are sharing their real selves. Like minded people tend to find each other. I have nothing against writing to an audience when it happens organically. When there is real connection you won’t lose yourself. I believe real relationships (even with an audience) can grow, evolve, and mature together.
    Love your post. Have a blessed day!

  3. I write for me. I use it to enjoy my creative side. If other people are willing to read it, then awesome. But it’s always just for me.

  4. 🙂 You already know that I believe that bloggers should always write to please themselves, Brenda.

    When you truly reflect who you are via your writing, you end up attracting an audience that is like-minded.

  5. Oh Brenda, this hits home deeply for me- given that I have just begun the journey with Wynne and Vicki on the HoTM. I write 100% for myself. That is how my personal blog has always been, yet when I said yes to HoTM I knew instinctively that no matter how free we are as contributors- there is a theme involved, there is a goal, there is a purpose and reason for their interest in starting this blog. I read our other contributors posts and have no idea how to present my words in any way that meets their writing. I can only write in the voice I have always used, in the voice that I write this comment in and in the way I would speak to you if I was sitting across from you. I would never want to attempt to be anything else. I would not be true to myself if I did.

    • Hi Deb, im guessing but from what I’m reading on Heart of the Matter, the contributors need to be authentic, writing from the heart. I dont want to put words in the mouths of Wynne or Vicki, but im sure they pick people because they’re a good fit and share the same goals? As a reader, I love HoTM

      • I truly appreciate that comment so much Brenda. Also appreciate you as a reader and follower of the blog as well as your honesty.

      • You two…thank you so much for this exchange. I think finding that ‘sweet spot’ is a goal for everyone who blogs. Authenticity and heart…but honesty, too. xo! 💖

      • I’m not sure its possible to be authentic if aren’t also honest.

        I also want to say the work you and Wynne are doing is great. I really HoTM enjoy reading the posts shared. Everyone is so open and willing to share, it’s creating a good community around it

      • You are such a love, Brenda. Thanks for that. I think your post highlights just how tricky all of the sharing, disclosing, blogging can be…such a thoughtful discussion here in the comments. We appreciate YOU. 💖

  6. I started out writing to inform people about various health issues and diets. At that time I was writing for them. Gradually, I started writing my thoughts and feelings about life. So basically I am writing for myself and I’ve found many people who like to read that or relate to it.

  7. You do a good job posing the question, Brenda. I think we have to write for ourselves – but I think once we do engage with the audience, it starts to change us (or at least our writing) because we start a conversation and then our writing, and maybe our thinking too, starts to evolve. Interesting to thinking about.

    • Thats an interesting take, Wynne. Even being shaped by our reading and thinking, we still write about things that light a spark.

  8. Your thoughts are owned by you, therefore sharing them in the form of words must be done for the pleasure of yourself, delight of those thoughts and in your own unique style. 😊🤍 Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts Brenda✨

  9. Love this post, Brenda, and the questions you’ve posed. I think I’m still working much of that out…the compulsion to write comes from the inside…things that I need/want to express…and the “audience” and connections with others, as a result, is a beautiful byproduct – less of an intention. Still, I can see how bloggers might periodically revisit the questions you’re asking here, because we’re all so fluid and dynamic in what we do, how we express ourselves, what motivates us.
    Big hugs! 😘

  10. I’ve been blogging now for about 7 months and I’m certainly getting that addictive vibe … I MUST put pen to paper every day. Create words of some sort. I also get what you mean about writing for yourself. I’d say I have at least 2 different foci – information that I want to share – academic study skills, the few management/HR things I’ve done and other things based on experience. However recently I’ve started writing creatively … yes I share it and really appreciate people reading it, taking the time to comment and engage – but primarily its about my own self expression and I just need to get the ideas out of my head and put somewhere – I certainly don’t think of an audience when I write that

  11. In the self v public debate, Brenda, does writing have to be one or the other? I think at the heart of writing we have to have authenticity in whatever we write. I would say that even writing for an audience there is always an element of self in the writing. This is what I feel, in the long term, separates us from the AI writing apps doing the rounds. Natalie Goldberg has an interesting chapter in her book, Writing Down the Bones, about the I in writing. She suggests that I goes beyond the self and can represent many forms. An excellent question, Brenda, and I am enjoying the debate that is developing. Feels like a thesis coming on 😉.

  12. Most of the time, I write for myself, but I have to remind myself of the purpose of my blog. To be honest, writing has helped me a lot. I am an overthinker and spend most of my time thinking about various things. I used to keep all these thoughts in my head and sometimes felt exhausted, but now I try to write everything that comes to mind.
    Great post.

  13. I’m definitely on the side of “write for self and have no public”. At the same time, I left “the socials” a few years back and there’s admittedly still part of me that likes knowing people care – about me, about what I care about etc. SO…it’s also nice to receive comments and feedback along the way.

  14. What a coincidence. Was just chatting about this with another blogger a few days back. And thus I’ll quote William Zinnser. He says to do both. Write for yourself and for the audience. Write for yourself when it comes to the topic, and what interests you. Write for the audience when it comes to craft, to pay them the respect for their time. I love this subject though!

  15. Thanks for sharing your valuable insights on this issue..You already know that I believe that bloggers should always write to please themselves.

  16. I’m with Stuart. Write for yourself and for your audience. I believe only bloggers who want to make a living out of blogging would write about subjects just for an audience. I write for pleasure, not for work, so will always only write about subjects that interest me. Otherwisie, I’d find it a real chore to blog, and that’s not what I want blogging to be.

  17. I write both for myself and an audience that is looking for more specific information. The comparison between who you write for–yourself or others is an either/or. Honestly, if we wrote only for ourselves, we wouldn’t publish a blog.
    I want to match tone to purpose. A how-to piece on finding verbs should be different from a piece on the frustrations of dealing with people who just don’t understand why grammar is important.

  18. I write for myself and the audience. I write about stuff I’ve done, or that I believe in, or for information purposes. My blog has only been going for a few months, so am very much a beginner and finding my way still.

  19. I write for fun and to keep myself in line with being hopeful and joyful. I like that I have positive people who comment on my posts. I like the zest for life most bloggers have.

  20. You make some excellent points in this post, Brenda (sorry it’s taken me so long to comment). I definitely write for myself – I often say it’s the only way I know how to write – from my heart and soul. That’s not to say I don’t hope I have readers who will be interested in what I write about – my thoughts and feelings mainly (and the odd bit of fiction). One of your other readers here commented that if we were writing purely for ourselves, then why do we blog. Somehow, writing in a diary or journal doesn’t do it for me. I always value my readers’ comments, especially when I’ve written from my heart as I do.

    Funnily enough, one of my readers today suggested that I try to write blog posts from prompts. I replied that I didn’t know how to do that or get my head around the idea, but I did say I would give it a go. I’ve noticed that WordPress has started giving us a prompt first thing in the morning or when first turning on my laptop or phone. Am I up for the challenge? I’ll give it some careful thought. Xx 💐

  21. Thanks Ellie. I think how we respond to prompts determines whether or not we are likely to write something. I believe whether it’s a ‘formal’ prompt or just something in our day … but something grabs our attention and we have a response to that … usually for me that would be emotional but its just a strong
    feeling that I need to say something, I have an opinion etc. There are a lot of prompts I don’t respond to and so far I’ve not responded to any of the WP ones

    • I think that’s important. Our readers will pick up on the things that interest us, and can tell when we’re not interested ourselves.

  22. I feel that a happy medium must be found within the parameters of both self and others. If we seek out our own interest and they fall into such a small window of understanding then we give up on our personal growth and development, forfeiting our opportunity to pick up a new trick or two, all the while polishing up the strengths that we do have bringing about a more rounded individual that has a broad range of curiosity that can objective observe multiple sides of any topic despite our leanings towards one or the other.

    To live for self is to fall into a pit that is a recipe for a downward slide that has more damage to ourselves than one might have to physical property or other material possessions. This slope has more downsides, it has the weight of our words on others to have them join in the echo chamber that creates the repetition of things in such a way you’d never even begin to question if what was happening was mass psychological social engineering. Never stop to add a ? To your statements to clarify that this was an inquiry and not a statement, unless you enjoy playing with rhetorical. But that’s just rhetoricalous ridiculously rhetorical for rubbing your readers the wrong way.

    In the end take heed to both in and out, but not without taking another glance from both sides through rose or some other color lenses or from an outdid perspective that you have embodied in order to remove self from the equation to reduce any extraneous stressors that might be waiting for you to hit anxiety ave and make a wrong turn.

    Self care alongside pushing self with moderate consistency that is filled with novelty and new ideas to help further gain one’s ability to understand things in a way that one would never contemplate in a million years, but 1 million and 1 would do the trick.

    • Ok, but would you apply the same argument to the other side of the coin? Don’t just write for others as you could lose yourself.

      I agree that we don’t write in isolation and we engage with the community, to have that exchange which is so valuable

      • I see no reason to create argument within self. It’s probably best taking the negative and positive of both sides and assess which side you should lean more heavily towards to further develop one side and gain a bit more personal insight into interpersonal interactions and others like extroverted sending and extract red intuition.

        Key is not creating any lasting routine outside of an ever evolving, devolving, growing, losing, losing, winning, hating, and living. Never allowing comfort to take root and grip our souls with such voracity that we are inextricably attached to this physiological dependence on this level of comfort that we’ve afforded ourselves. Comfort is not the enemy, too comforting is the enemy and it is an undeniable part of who we are. We must remain vigilant in our journey towards a better self. No one else will hold us as accountable as ourselves. Plus we have the whole lifetime influence so that plays right into our benefit.

        Best of luck in whichever direction you might go. Understand that a wrong turn isn’t always wrong because it can lead to insight that brings light to something that may otherwise be completely obscured from our view.

        May the life and love that has allowed us all to exist to shine through you illuminating the paths of those who have bee. Influenced by your expressions

      • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, we always need to weigh up the options and decide each case on its merits. Good luck to you too.

      • I admire your inquisitive personality and your ability to remain open minded in things that never have a single mind for them. There’s billions of minds, most of us can’t make it up lol. Why lean so heavily on something that could very well drop at any given moment. Create a wide knowledge so that your ability to discern your personal and often shared truths, continuing to make use of the brilliant minds that we’re all capable of cultivating with the proper tools and motivation to do so. Maybe move your position for. Brenda to Arenda. You score an A and your ability to render ideas in a digestible format makes your rendering of these things which have no clear definition definition is met through consistent and routine backing of different ideas that supersede the actual terminology or the multitude of ways that context can be lost with editing or focus on key points while ignoring all that don’t fit the narrative that is to take peoples money, time, and sense of security and freedom away from them with every sensational news story that gets people riled up but never enough to FORCE change that is necessary for structural integrity of the species on a large scale. Anyways, you’ll figure it out as you go, I’d like to assume you’ve more than made due so far.

      • I think its important to remain open-minded. We can’t know everything. Have a good evening

  23. I tend to write for myself, but learn what’s popular. I only really get a few readers on the day of publishing a post but I just do what I do. I’d love to know how to increase the audience size but I know it’s not everything. If anything blogging just helps me process things, like an open-air journal 🙂

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. The best things, I believe, are be consistent with your blogging pattern so you’re in a routine. Make sure its a frequency you’re comfortable with. For me, the main thing is to engage with the community – just like you’re doing here – read and comment on others’ posts, and respond to those who leave comments on yours.

  24. Ive always found it particularly strange when it comes to times, and to feeling like the public and the self are, seemingly, unrelated? Why do they not mesh?
    If it is something that concerns the readers, then it concerns people for some reason and if it concerns me, I’d ask why. And where. Because hey, its still gonna be different for everyone, yknow?
    If its about me, well, its not like Im going to talk about like, everything, or whatever. And I don’t have to. But, if there is something I’d like to share, and reasons why, and the ability to, and co., then I’d share that. I think we all matter, despite the fact that society and people can sometimes tell us that we don’t. But we make society. People make society.

    • Very true … we are the component parts of society … and the blogging community. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts

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