I asked Google, “What does a writer want?” I found a variety of answers. Lev Raphael says we want “Everything,” and quotes Roxane Gay saying writers “want and want and want.”
Some writers will say they want fame, others money, some just want luck. I think what a writer really wants is Audience.
Writers want what they write to be read.
But as the explosion of blogosphere and the self-publishing industry demonstrates again and again, publication does not guarantee readers. Good writing might.
Here are some ideas for finding and building an audience with a blog. None of these ideas require an advanced degree in rocket science; they all require hard work, and they’re all working for me.
- Write for your audience. (This post is for Live to Write – Write to Live readers: writers – you.)
- Say what you want with economy and grace.Like everyone else on the planet, your readers are pressed for time, so don’t waste theirs. (I aim for a post of 400-600 words.)
- Practice your craft and give your audience a polished performance. If you
were a pianist, you wouldn’t invite your audience to listen to you play scales or learn a new piece; as a writer, you don’t want to show your audience your rough draft. (This essay went through three drafts.)
- Commit to a publication schedule. While an audience may like to be surprised in the content of what you write, it also likes to know when to expect a new post. I post here every other Tuesday, and I post to my own blog every Wednesday. It’s hard work that has garnered non-monetary rewards, namely a growing audience. I have readers who look forward to my posts; I know because they tell me.
- Keep writing and other opportunities will follow. I keep writing; in addition to meeting new readers, editors I don’t know now ask me to write for them; invitations for public speaking and proposals for writing projects arrive in my inbox. I get to decide what I want to write and for whom.
I wouldn’t say no to fame and fortune, but it’s my audience who will determine that. Of course I’d like more readers, more publications, and more royalties. I believe they will come if I continue to do my job, which is to write stories that will cross that membrane between writer and reader, to engage in that intimacy that occurs when my words get under my readers’ skin, into their thoughts, and maybe even change how they think.
Deborah Lee Luskin is the award-winning author of Into the Wilderness, a love story set in Vermont during the Goldwater – Johnson presidential campaign in 1964. She blogs every Wednesday at Living in Place.