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Writing for an Audience of One

By Kim Vogel Sawyer

If you’re old enough, you’ll probably remember Ricky Nelson crooning, “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.” (That’s grammatically incorrect, by the way, but it’s how it was sung, so….) It’s a rather self-serving statement, but there’s some truth to it. There really is no way for any decision to please everyone. And if you’ve written one book or twenty, you’ve likely experienced this truth.

Reviews for a single title can be all over the place. Contradictions abound. For one reader the book was too slow, for another too fast; too preachy, not “Christian” enough; too edgy, too sweet; too deep, too fluffy; too much description, not enough description. On and on it goes until a writer might want to start plucking tufts of hair from her head and shouting “Auuuugh!” Charlie Brown style.

So what’s a writer to do? Well, as simplistic as it might sound, a writer is to write the story that has grown in his or her heart to the very best of his or her ability.

If you’re writing for the Christian market, you’re most likely answering a tug. God places certain desires and abilities within us which He expects us to use. We’re instructed in 1 Corinthians 10:31 (KJV), “…whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” So it goes to follow that our first goal in whatever task we undertake—including writing a story—should be to bring Him glory.

In other words, we write to please God first and self/others last. (Kind of goes against the song instruction, doesn’t it?) But honestly, when we start thinking about writing to please the One who gave us the desire, the opinions of the reviewers cease to matter quite so much. If we know we’re doing what we’ve been called to do, and we know we’re doing it to the very best of our ability, we’ll discover a contentment in the task that supersedes everything else.

Every writer has a voice distinct from all others’. Every writer has life experiences that are unique to all others’. So we take who we are and what we know, and we express it in the way only we can. If a reader objects to the way the story is written, then that is not the reader the book was intended to reach. For every reader who finds reason to set the book aside, there will be another who picks it up and finds it pleasing.

Discouragement is rampant in the writer’s life, but don’t let discouragement keep you from penning the stories God intends for you to write. Write for Him, dear Christian writer, and He will bless the work of your hands.

God bless you muchly as you journey with Him!

Writing for an Audience of One by @KimVogelSawyer. #ACFWBlogs #amwriting Click To Tweet

Bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer’s works have received several awards including the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Inspirational Reader Choice Contest award, and she is a multiple winner of the ACFW Book of the Year Award. She delights in writing stories of the hope we can possess when we place our lives in God’s very capable hands. A life-long Kansas resident, Kim sets many of her novels in America’s heartland. Kim and her husband are empty-nesters who relish time with their daughters and quiverful of grandchildren. Active in her church, Kim leads the women’s ministries, teaches Sunday school, and participates in the music ministry. In her spare time, she enjoys acting in community theatre, quilting, and calligraphy. Visit Kim on her website.

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5 Responses to Writing for an Audience of One

  1. Thanks, I needed that.

  2. Kim, You’ve hit on a big bugaboo for authors, especially those who write Christian fiction. I know we’re advised never to read our reviews, but occasionally I sneak a peak at the Amazon ones, and my eyes are automatically drawn to the one-star reviews. But, as you (and Rick Nelson) say, “You can’t please everyone.” Thanks for sharing–please keep on writing for God. The rest isn’t really up to us, is it?

  3. Amen and Amen! Blessings to you, dear Kim!

  4. Cynthia says:

    Hi Kim,
    I just had to reply to let you know how much your words have encouraged me. I am a very discouraged Christian writer. I began my writing journey seven years ago. When I wrote my first book, the words seemed to pour out as if I’d opened a vein. Unfortunately, the story was poorly structured and fell flat. Ugh. Since then, I’ve received my calling to write for Him. And, since then, it’s like I’ve hit a brick wall. I feel as if nothing I write is good enough for Him. But I know that I’m meant to write a story for Him. And, for now, that’s enough. I intend to keep on writing until He reveals the story He has planned. Phil. 1:6

    I appreciate your prayers. 🙂

  5. Linda, so glad this provided encouragement for you.

    Doc, always glad to hear from you. (It’s hard to stay away from the reviews, isn’t it? And we do tend to flay ourselves with the “bad” ones. Sure am glad God doesn’t see as man sees!)

    MaryAnn, blessings to you!

    Cynthia, when we do what He’s asked us to do, blessings follows. Keep writing!