Writing for you versus writing for an audience

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benjaminsolah
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Writing for you versus writing for an audience

Post by benjaminsolah » Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:10 pm

A common piece of advise is that you should write for yourself, not worry about the audience thinks, but we perform in front of audiences all the time, so what are the pros and cons of both approaches? Can we trust what the audience thinks? Is writing for an audience disingenuous? What do we do with audience feedback?
"...no-holds-barred, passionate..." - Ali Alizadeh | "Here is truly a writer to be reckoned with" - Maxine Beneba Clarke

Benjamin Solah is a spoken word artist, poet, writer and political activist, raised in the western suburbs of Sydney, now based in Melbourne. His performance style ranges from passionate denunciations of the system we live in to absurdist stream-of-consciousness on topics from politicians, to video games and football. His work has appeared on stages, pages, screens, through megaphones, in wrestling rings, including many regular poetry events such as Passionate Tongues and The Dan O'Connell, Cordite Poetry, Overland, the NGV and White Night Melbourne. He is the author of broken bodies, a poetic chapbook on the theme of asylum seekers, and two spoken EPs, Duel Power with Santo Cazzati and The World Doesn't Make Sense.

benjaminsolah.com | Official Facebook Page | Twitter: @benjaminsolah

TimT
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Re: Writing for you versus writing for an audience

Post by TimT » Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:41 pm

I guess I do both, write for myself and for audiences, because writing becomes more interesting when it's a contradiction in terms.

I don't do zines so much anymore, but when I did them I was struck by some fellow zinemakers' attitudes towards audiences. I wanted *more* of an audience. they seemed to sometimes want less audience. To the point where I thought they wanted to get their zine's circulation down into negative figures. "Now with a readership of -10!"

Andy Jackson
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Re: Writing for you versus writing for an audience

Post by Andy Jackson » Thu Sep 01, 2016 5:27 pm

Yes, BOTH (or maybe neither). I was reading an irritating interview with an avant-garde poet the other day, who was saying we've had the death of the author, now we need the death of the reader - ie we should write things that are unreadable. Sigh. I think poetry is about the space between poet and audience, which is physical, emotional, thoughtful, ambiguous - it's a kind of communing. I don't write poems thinking about a specific audience, but when I write and perform, I do want to create some kind of mood or space for thinking and feeling. So, I think about audience response, but more about how I respond to audience response. And I also take their response with a grain of salt. I've had people laugh at lines that aren't funny, and cry when I've been going through the motions.

Lisa_McLean
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Re: Writing for you versus writing for an audience

Post by Lisa_McLean » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:11 pm

'For Us'

There is no “I”
There is only “we”
There is no you
There is no me.

There is no audience
There are no words
There is only understanding
Without even being heard.

There is no there
There is no here
This limbo we live in
Is the space between
love
and fear.

HamishDanksBrown
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Re: Writing for you versus writing for an audience

Post by HamishDanksBrown » Sat Sep 03, 2016 5:03 pm

"I write because I write because I write." - Georges Perec ( 1936-1982).
Most of my writing has little or nothing to do with considering an audience. It is much more based on the compulsion to write and for me the writing flows much better when I give no thought to how it will be received or who will respond to it.
If that sounds solitary it's usually the case, and yet the bulk of my wtiting has been written in public - libraries, cafes, bars, backpacker hostels, dormitories, in transit. I seem to be stimulated by the surrounding activity of people, traffic, music, voices in different languages, while writing. I zone in rather than out. Writing is a heightened form of paying attention.
I guess the audience response is a reflection of how much attention has been paid, from their perspective, even though the audience I have in mind is each reader, one by one. Starting with how I listen, watch and register my own poems as I'm writing them. They are never finished. I never read them by rote. I often ad lib during my performance. The audience is as much coming from within as it is gathering outside and then settling in to whichever venue we're getting together at.

thatpoetrygirl
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Re: Writing for you versus writing for an audience

Post by thatpoetrygirl » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:59 pm

I write for both. I think that the audience will always be important when writing in a medium where they exist, we write for them unconsciously sometimes; they are the reception we get for our writing. When i was in the 9th grade my teacher would always say that reading or attending performance art events was important because people who create things often have something to say. The thing is, when you have something to say, you say it so people can listen, otherwise it would just stagnate as a thought and remain internal. To say we write purely for the evidence however, indicates that we write in order to please the audience and those are two very different things. Writing for the audience is a given and is often intertwined for writing for ourselves, for writing to be heard; it is saying here i am and here is my truth and i want you to listen to it. Writing to please the audience on the other hand is giving people what they want to hear, it is to say here i am, willing to please you , irrelative of my truth and my story, i only exist in a form that interests and intrigues you. That being said, we often write in a medium or style that is pleasing to the audience, this is not because we are writing to please them though, it is more so that we need them to listen to us, it is a little bit of a give and take arrangement in which we please the audience aesthetically or stylistically so that they may be attentive to our content. In the end, no matter which why i try to dissect it, i end up writing for both, because i have things to say and i want people to listen.
That was a little bit of a tangent but i guess what i am trying to say is that it is not in any way wrong or ingenious to write for an audience, it is the nature of the communication we have with them, in spoken word, we get an immediate form of feedback from the audience and this is where we have the ability to either take it on board, or to ignore it. I generally act depending on the audience, if the piece was meant to irk the audience, and they turn out irked, then my job has been done (no body said that writing to the audience meant they had to be pleased did they?) but if the audience is meant to be amused and they clearly do not get what i am talking about, it does mean that i need to work on my delivery and so i go back to the drawing board (given that this is not something i am doing purely for myself and to get things out there etc.) and i find a way to make the delivery better, this doesn't take away from the piece, it just makes it better received so long as the content does not become censored or the message changed greatly.

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