Forum > Webcomic & Art discussion > Writing for Yourself/Others
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"Writing for Yourself/Others", 13 days ago, 7:46 PM #1
swamp
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So I did critiques here a bit ago, and I was looking at one person's work and thinking 'I don't know how to critique this because I don't think this is for readers' and I was thinking of how we talk about 'writing for others versus writing for yourself', but I think both of those can mean different things.

WRITING FOR OTHERS
What most people think - Writing for Benefits
I mean, we all do it. Money, popularity, fame. Gotta get those likes, baby. And I don't think we can let go of that, and it's not totally fair to. Loving comics often means wanting to make more comics, which, unless you're a wealthy heir, means money would mean more comics. And people liking your comics is very rewarding!
Of course it can be a dangerous impulse. We all fear the hollow book written to court the public eye with no passion or love in it.

But here's what else it can be - Writing as Communication
My stories exist in my head. For me, the time it takes to put them down on paper is all about somebody else. For me, a core part of writing as an art is thinking about the reader. How does this affect people? Does this make sense?
For me, writing is not about some beautiful think that stands alone. It is about making something that is meant to be read. And that means considering the reader, not as in 'what gets the most likes' but as in 'how do I take the things in my head and get them into somebody else's heart'
But I don't think writing for oneself is bad or selfish, but I do think it can be more than one thing.

WRITING FOR YOURSELF
What most people think - Making something you'd want to read. Embracing what you enjoy reading, what you enjoy writing.
And again, I think almost all of us do some of this. It's what makes writing more than a chore.

But here's what else it can be - Making something you need to write
This is what it always feels wrong to review. There's a certain part of writing where it feels like the reader doesn't matter. It's a raw act of creation. It's somebody taking the demons in their head and spilling them onto a page.
Often this really does resonate with other people, but it feels very incidental to the process.

What of these resonates the most with you? Or do those not really cover why/how you write?

Personally, I think my early writing was much more the self therapy type, but as I've come to terms with things, it's become more about telling a story to readers and having fun with the process.

I've also worried less about making something that will stand the test of time and become more okay with making something that's enjoyable/meaningful now and will be forgotten in 20 years.
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13 days ago, 8:37 PM #2
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I don't mean to split hairs too much, but the way I see it, there are great and not-so-great things about both options.

if writing for others means pandering to trends, bending over backwards to become more marketable or whatever, letting any big-mouthed rando influence your story... well nope. anyone who paid some attention to my posts knows I loathe that kind of shallow, soulless writing.

if writing for others means sharing a story with the rest of the world and hoping it will make someone smile or laugh... yep, that's one of my goals. I don't even care about becoming popular. I just like it when I'm not the only person who has fun reading a particular page.

and I guess you could say that about writing for yourself too. on the one hand, it's very easy to indiscriminately throw whatever happens in your head on paper and forget viewers need at least some basic understanding of your messy project. on the other hand, writing something you like is an essential part of the process, and it can also be cathartic.

so uh... dunno if I really answered your question, but based on what I just typed, I can say I've always been (or at least tried to be) on the "positive" side of writing, whether it is for entertaining others or having fun with my creations.
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13 days ago, 10:08 PM #3
cheetour

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My personal view is that there's a difference between writing something you want to write and writing something you'd want to read. There's nothing more or less selfish/shallow about both, I think. People have all kinds of reasons and feelings for what they make, and for some people, good storytelling is more deliberate than for others.

I think it's fair to critique that style of writing, though. I would never tell anybody that it's bad for them to write stories just to vent, capture a feeling, or even to get off sexually, and I would encourage everyone to do it, because it's wonderful and healthy and beautiful! But if they then publish it on online and ask people what they think it's fair game, you know? Just because something came from the heart doesn't mean it's going to be close to someone else's heart. After all, if I'm angry and I fill a page with black scribbles, that might mean the world to me but be absolutely meaningless to an outside observer.
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13 days ago, 10:10 PM #4
MK_Wizard

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The way I see it is that a happy medium does exist. It is possible to write an appealing story to people and still enjoy writing it. However, you can't please everyone. And I believe it is important for you to be true to yourself first. If you don't like what you're doing, you won't do it well.
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12 days ago, 11:44 AM #5
Fruity20

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This has been a topic that I pondered for awhile now and I still struggle even to this day. I feel like for me, I still want to retain the creative vision I made for a story. Nothing angers me more than having a person's vision for a work squandered in order to be more marketable to the masses. It's why I wanted to be more independent than be more self-reliant on clout half the time.

It was quite hard for me to deal with not trying to pander to everyone. since, at heart I was one of those storyteller who's stories wish to make a reaction. If no one noticed the work I made, I was normally crestfallen. But even then, I still wanna write stories I personally wanna see.
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10 days ago, 6:56 PM #6
swamp
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I didn't really post this to judge anyone's reasons for writing, just to kind of... ask about perspectives I feel like get left out of the conversation

Writing for others is always seen as 'compromising your story for others' rather than 'writing for others because storytelling is a form of entertainment and communication meant for an audience'

But also that... some stories feel like they exist as a form of expression rather than something be read. They can be an enjoyable read, but they're hard to approach critically for me because... reading it doesn't feel like the point.
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10 days ago, 8:51 PM #7
borzoiteeth

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I'm very much with Cheetour on this. Whether you pander to yourself (and trust me, there are others who have your same taste elsewhere in this world) or to others it is all free for critique. However, many people get lost on how to properly do so. Many accidentally do bad faith ones thinking they were being good and logical.

The important thing to remember is: What is the goal of the work?

Let's use a popular "written for yourself" example, Twilight. The whole point of the work is to be a guilty pleasure romance. To critique the work based on what you deem terrible romance kind of destroys the point. All that tells in your critique is that you are not the audience for this work.

A good critique for Twilight would focus on the plot holes. There were various important elements that shaped the plot earlier that get outright ignored "just because". This is free to critique because the author placed important elements only to not give an explanation to why they no longer matter. That makes the story overall weaker, especially for those who this is their guilty pleasure for. Even if you are just creating for yourself- do you at least want the work to make sense on the terms it made for itself?

Sometimes, the goal of the work is just to vent. Usually I just leave that stuff alone as that is all about a personal moment to be left in the past if possible. Though I guess one can argue if the vent is about something you have also gone through, its an empathetic moment?

Whether the work be made for an audience of one or more, everything doesn't need to be critiqued.
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10 days ago, 10:21 PM #8
keiiii

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There is one stigma I've seen attached to the 'writing for yourself' thing. I don't see it all the time, but when I do see it, it really bugs me.

The stigma is: writing for yourself means you don't care about quality or improvement. You're just getting it out there, having fun.

Nothing against those who do it that way, but it's just not the case for every person/story. I put the most effort into upping the quality when I focus on creating for myself. It's because I have a good understanding of what the piece needs to be. Outside input can still be helpful, but I allow myself the final say with everything. I allow my own opinion and tastes to matter.

If I'm trying to please others, I don't know wtf they want. Different people want different things. Many of those things aren't even compatible with my story to begin with. So I end up panicking, expending my energy in unproductive ways.

That being said, making your story more accessible =/= pandering to others, even though they both fall under writing for others. Like, my most important target audience is my reader-self (or as I like to put it, my "taste twin" -- me from an alternate universe, who has no insider knowledge of the story and would experience the comic purely as a reader). But I've made compromises to make it more accessible, and the price I paid was pretty fair, I gotta say.

The biggest compromise for HoK is the story is being written and presented in English, even though I feel much more free when writing the canonly Korean dialog (which is most of the dialog) in Korean. I wasn't willing to make Korean-English bilingualism a requirement for reading my comic. So while writing this story in 100% English has its drawbacks, I'm okay with it. I think my taste twin would be okay with it, too. :)
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10 days ago, 11:05 PM #9
Bandkanon

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Trying to formulate my thoughts on this matter and it's being really, really difficult tbh.

I.... think I'm a for-myself sort of writer. But then again, what I put out is also readily available for public eyes because I want to be able to connect indirectly with my readers.... for a variety of reasons. Intrigue, emotions, interpretations, etc, all kinda coagulate into a big ol' craving for communication.

Like, for instance-- Some of my characters and their stories are connected to my experiences growing up, past traumas and present-day struggles, fears for the future etc, and they help me to push through hard times, encourage me to keep going or 'try again'. I let these characters exist on the canvas in the worlds they were made for because maybe there's someone out there that also needs to see these characters doing their best, or going through hard times, and maybe they'd be able to relate to that. I've had a few people tell me that my characters resonated with them, and that really is an incredibly liberating feeling.

Other reasons I guess are goals I have yet to achieve. I habitually leave cookie crumbs and puzzle pieces scattered about the pages of my works in hope that someone will maybe take the time to piece them together and garner some kind of meaning out of it. It doesn't matter if they actually "get it" or not; Usually there's like... very little "it" to get. I don't do life lessons, political agendas, etc-- actually my stories are usually written with single-word 'recurring themes' in mind. Things to just play with, and see what happens. They're the backbone of the story, sure, but in the end they exist in a vacuum. If that makes any sense. (Probably not?) But seeing a reader analyzing the puzzle pieces and spinning their own meaning out of it is something I strive for every single day. If I can get just ONE person to pull some philosophical mumbo-jumbo out of my stories, I'll know I've done my job. But that's something I need to really work hard for. And that would require, I dunno... finishing what I've started? lol

So maybe who I'm really writing for would be... both myself and others. Whether my work is considered "good" or "bad" is secondary to my concerns I guess, especially since at this current time my hand injury makes it so I can't afford to waste time trying to achieve perfection. It's probably selfish-- Actually, no, it IS selfish. I just want to get my stuff out there before I die. And in getting it out there, maybe I will have connected with lots of people and feel like an actual human being.

Kinda like Key the Metal Idol.
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Forum > Webcomic & Art discussion > Writing for Yourself/Others
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