When writing, we’ve always been told that determining and writing for your audience is key. Early on this was limited to the teacher and maybe a few peers, but as time goes on and your writing continues to grow, your audience will manifest into many different subsets and categories, all with different ideas of what will please them. This can be difficult for many, as you want your work to be looked at by as many people as possible, which leads to people such as William Zinsser trying to find a more concrete definition on what the role of the audience really is in his book On Writing Well.
Zinsser states “You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.” I do understand this mindset, as I don’t find many more things I dislike more than writing something I don’t enjoy. I also understand that audiences are so vast and diverse that it’ll be impossible to find that one thing that will please your audience, so writing more for yourself makes sense. Despite understanding why Zinsser states this, I still somewhat disagree. While you shouldn’t let a hypothetical audience control all of your writing, it’s still always important to keep that audience in the back of your mind.
If you’re writing a piece deeply discussing an entertainment topic such as sports or video games, it wouldn’t be smart to painfully go through the basics of each before getting to the part everyone who clicks on it wants to see. Similarly, if your article is about how basketball or video games effects some sort of social environment, the basics of the subjects will be more needed as there’s a much higher chance those who don’t know much about the topic will be reading.
Zinsser raises many good ideas on the concept of writing for an audience and not letting the audience control you. There needs to be a balance between the two though to have a successful piece. Don’t be a slave to your hypothetical audience, but don’t also completely ignore them. Write so you yourself get the most enjoyment out of a piece, but also remember that this isn’t simply for just you to read, but for everyone to read.