Who Do You Write For?

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Who do you write for? We often talk about knowing your audience as a writer and targeting that audience. I have a favorite quote that focuses it even better:

“If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy.

If you write for men—you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while.

If you write for yourself you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish that you were dead.”

–Thomas Merton, Seeds of Faith

The truth is you need a lot of writing for God with a good dose of writing for your own readers.

It’s not an easy thing to do. I see many a manuscript written to impress a professor or a mentor. Others are carefully written to be acceptable to a critical family. I see children’s manuscripts written to the child the author used to be in the fifties or sixties.

So I have two questions for you. Who do you most often write for? How does one find their true audience. (Of course we don’t need to go into finding God– our true audience, but how do we determine our earthly audience?)

18 Responses

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  1. I’m not writing for God; I’m writing TO Him. Every blog post, every book is a calligraphic brush-stroke in the love letter to Him that my life must become.

  2. In my journal, I write for myself. Often, it’s a conversation with God. Hsis fingers are all over the words recorded there.
    * My book, devotions and Bible studies? I write with God. Without his wisdom, his power, his love and his gifts, the words I write are mere scribbles on the page.

  3. David Todd says:

    God…man…self. As you say, getting those audiences sorted out in your writing isn’t easy.
    I’d like to say I write for God, but He hasn’t told me anything specific to write. Now, before everyone jumps all over me, I’ll say that I believe God speaks to different people in different ways. Some He speaks to directly, almost audibly. To me He doesn’t. He seems to leave me to my own best judgment. So I have to write the things I’d want to read (Merton’s opinion not withstanding) and hope there’s enough people out there enough like me who find, buy, read, and like my books, making my writing the best I can make it. I see no other path.

  4. Thank you, dear Wendy, for sharing the Thomas Merton quote. It’s exactly what I needed this morning.
    I’m struggling to focus because I’m straddling fiction and nonfiction writing. I love both. But I can’t decide where to stand.
    Reading your post reminded me of a nonfiction project I started that brings me deep joy. And this reminded me of another quote:
    “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” ~ Frederick Buechner
    Perhaps the answer to both your questions is found at the intersection of our deep joy and our audience’s great need.
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

  5. Pat Iacuzzi says:

    First, I seek God’s Grace and forgiveness; then through prayer, devotions and study, wait on the Lord. A possible story idea usually comes in the form of a Theme first, which I hope will serve God’s Purpose for others through me. Once I find a theme, I develop the characters, and their struggles. I am forever grateful to the Lord.

  6. Great question Wendy. I love 1 Peter 4:10, and 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4.

    1 Peter 4:10 New International Version (NIV)
    10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

    New International Version (NIV)

    3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

    New International Version (NIV)
    Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

    This verses have been a part of me for years. I use every gift I have, including writing, to show the many side faces (manifold) of God’s Grace’s to whomever I am engaging in any way I can, with a special heart of compassion to those who have suffered…which includes all. But, what I’m meaning are those who have suffered in ways that those who have not suffered in like many have a limited understanding of. It takes someone who has been there, has healed, and stands in a strength, hope, peace, and joy that can only be achieved through trusting God, who so many turn away from, and working with and through the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word. Our world is filled with people desperate to find comfort, wholeness, and a love that never abandons them. I get it. I’ve been there, but now I’m here…with my voice, with my writing.

    • That one sentence should read, in like manner,” rather than “in like many.”

    • Yes! 🙂

      • p.s. That was “yes” to your ref. to Peter & Corinthians, Elizabeth–great words! And we all need to realize others may have suffered greatly too–but in other ways, for no one has escaped suffering. Thankfully, we have been gifted by the Lord to overcome, and “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

      • Thanks much. So much of the beauty of God comes through our sufferings. It is the only place we can experience the Great Physician and the relief and joy from the application of His healing balm-His Word, His Spirit, His mercy, His compassion, His forgiveness
        There is nothing like it, and no substitute.

        Blessings on you Patricia as you and your house serve the Lord in the unique and special gifting He has given you.😊

  7. I have been taking more time to pray about the writing and have had the delightful experience of watching God step into my everyday world and give assistance. Lo and behold He did concern Himself with my worries about being able to put a genuine spiritual thread into that MG ms. about the rowdy boys and their huge puppy! Ask Him! He is so faithful even in the small moments.

  8. Linnea Heinrichs says:

    Your words couldn’t have come at a better time, so, thank you. I’ve been struggling with my current WIP. I love the story and I love writing it for readers of historical fiction but I could not think how it would specifically serve the Lord. After reading your post and the responding comments I recalled that I was about three quarters of the way through writing the first draft of my previous novel before I found a way to include the gospel. I cannot tell you exactly how He did it but the Lord guided me and ensured that the gospel message was so inextricably bound to one character that omitting it would diminish the character’s impact on the story significantly.

    When the book was sold to a secular publishing house and it came time to work with an editor I wondered if he might suggest I edit it out. I needn’t have worried. Neither he nor anyone else in the publishing company said anything at all and it was included intact.

    I don’t need to know exactly how the Lord wants to use what I’m writing. We are partners in this endeavour and when the time is right He’ll guide me.

    Thanks again. You’ve helped to direct my thoughts.

    • Linnea that is SO exciting to hear. The Lord is so amazing in the ways He works. Won’t it be great to get to heaven and you find out how that book, and the character led people to beyond the pages of your book but to the very throne of God. So special. Thank you for sharing.

  9. When I initially wrote my manuscript, I wrote for God, with God, and for the people my story could possibly impact. Now that I’m meeting more people who read and write in my genre, I do think about how they would perceive my work should they get a chance to read it. And working with my crit group and learning more about the craft, I work before each meeting to please my leaders with each chapter. I want them to see progress in me.