9 out of ten readers are NOTHING like you imagined

Something I have heard a lot from writers is a statement or statements that are variations on one a lot like this:
“But the audience I am writing for won’t feel that way about this…”

writer's audience
Oh look, lots of people listening!

Firstly, WOW! You’ve done a lot of market research. Secondly, WTF are you writing? A soap commercial?
Now, if you ARE writing commercials, my apologies. But if we are talking writing here as a passion, an art-form, something you care deeply about, what the hell are you thinking?

And before you off-load some marketing truism about the audience is boss, don’t. It’s true, the audience is boss. They do want what they want now. But tomorrow? Who knows? Certainly not your audience. Do YOU know what new thing, fad, trend or fashion might stroke your fancy tomorrow? No. I thought not.

You see, human beings are re-active. Highly responsive pattern-recognising, self-preserving computers. So, based on what has happened before, we think we know what will happen in the future. Trouble is, as anyone who has been to a psychic will know, we are really, really bad at predicting the future. I have one word as an additional argument here: Lottery. Yes, the thing you never win.

What has this got to do with writing? Well, by making broad-based statements about what people LIKE what you are actually doing is predicting what people WILL like in the future based on their behaviour in the past. Just because people are creatures of (often mind-numbingly, stultifyingly crippling) habits doesn’t mean that anything new, wild, original, unique and heaven forbid, rich in passion and GOOD, will go ignored. Of course regrettably, it also doesn’t mean that your wondrous book will sell.

ohno ohno ohno ohno
ohno ohno ohno ohno

Sorry about that, but as we all should know, there are NO guarantees.
So, pick your flavour of disappointment:
1) Fail epically trying to recreate current market trends and tastes with in-depth research, sculpting and moulding your message to fit a shape that you have ‘recognised’ out there in the world
2) Fail transcribing your own unique world view, ideas and opinions in a work that is fresh, unique, brim full of passion and perspective.

Truth is, both approaches are susceptible to the same likelihood of failing… OR succeeding. Me, I’ve always leaned towards going down burning and doing what I love, what I care about. The thought of silently asphyxiating to death enacting some programme from the ideas of others is just anathema to me!

It’s almost as if everyone on this planet forgot that personal satisfaction and fulfilment are more important than milking this fucked up capitalist market for your own gain. Didn’t you want to write in the first place because you had something to say? So you’ve given up already? Shame, so you didn’t make that million dollars you wanted. Did you ever think that might have been a good thing? Did you ever think that maybe you just weren’t good enough yet? That maybe some more work and thought and practice would help? Or did you just go and buy the Mill’s and Boon instruction manual and go for the money?

solitude tower
Just go back to your tower and WRITE!

Shame on you. That’s why modern music sucks too you know. The money. There is no more art in most of it.
YOU can change that.
Stop it with the ‘audience profile’.
Just write what you want to write about
Write in your voice
Because 9 out of ten readers are nothing like you imagined them to be.

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