Writing Assignment: What Do You Want?

by Randy Murray on February 18, 2011

As a writer, any type of writer, you must always know the answer to one question: what do I want? If you’re a business writer, you need to know what you want the reader to do, what action to take, after they read your piece. If you’re writing fiction, you need to know not just what you want the reader to experience, but you also need to know what each character wants at any given moment as well.

It’s possible to write well without knowing up front exactly what you want. Writing and then testing what you’ve written is an excellent way to clarify what you want, what you think, feel, and believe. When you do that, you’re on a journey of discovery.

For today’s assignment, write a brief letter to your publisher (who in this instance is me), explaining what you want as a writer. You have unlimited space with which to do this, but for extra points, tell me what you want with no more than 100 words.

Here is my example:

You know, dear publisher, that what I have wanted has changed over the years. There was a time that what I wanted was to be right, and to be acknowledged as right, correct, and wise. There was a time, perhaps not yet over, that I simply wanted to be paid. But now, things are clearer and I want one simple and difficult-to-obtain thing: I want to be read.

I want readers. I want people to read what I write, maybe even to talk about it, disagree with me, wonder what I’m up to. I want to challenge readers, entertain them, and even worry them at times. I want to tell stories, but more important than the telling, I don’t want to stand in front of an empty auditorium.

Writing is work. I have no illusion about that. But it is easier for me when I know that someone, somewhere, benefits from my labor. Yes, I’d love to sell a few more books, a few more tickets to plays, and collect a few more paychecks from contract writing jobs. But what I want more than the money is to know that I have readers. That’s how I’ll keep it up. That’s how I’ll hone my skills and improve my art.

That’s what I want.

You may leave your completed assignment in the comments section below.

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The Writing Assignment: What Do You Want? by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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