The Writer’s Life: Success

by Randy Murray on April 10, 2012

Finding an audience, finding a reader, is one of the fundamental revelations in a writer’s life. Your audience, your reader, may not be who you thought that they would be. That’s a delightful and sometimes mind-blowing discovery. You’re not in control of who your readers will be. You might not even be the best judge and predictor of who will enjoy and benefit from your work.

It is a special joy when you discover that someone reads your work, that people discuss it, share it. Rarely do you get to see it happen in person. I have, but I’m also a playwright, and I can tell you that the moment when you first witness a live audience sit in silence and watch your work unfold before them, laugh, react, and, if you’re very lucky, leap to their feet and applaud with enthusiasm, is special and sweet beyond belief. As an author, when the first reader reaches out and thanks you, questions you, is very much the same. And the best of all is when you, unnoticed, overhear a conversation between two readers of your work. It is simply thrilling.

But this is not the reason that you write. Don’t be swept away by the excitement and encouragement. You write because you must. Resist the temptation to cater to your new audience, to feed them only what you think that they want. That’s a disservice to them and to your work.

How do you find an audience? You have to publish. You have to overcome the reluctance to show others your scribblings and release your work into the world. You have to set it free.

You may not find an audience for everything you do, but if you strive to become a great writer, work at your art, and seek out critical reactions, you’ll grow.

And it’s likely that someone, somewhere, will read your work. And share it. And talk about it. And grow.

An audience is a gift, but it’s not why you write.

So write.

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The The Writer’s Life: Success by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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