Are you creating mostly for you or mostly for others?

At ALLi, all the advice in our guidebooks, online conferences and other education assumes that the writer reading them wants to entertain, inform or inspire others. Ideally, as many others as possible.

But not all do.

Some writers just want the joy and pleasure of writing.

It’s completely valid for a writer, an artist, or any kind of creative, to create only in order to create.

Nothing is more valid, more pure than making your stuff, your way, for yourself.

TRY THIS: Creating For Self

Where do you fall, on a scale of 1 to 10, if 1 = “I’d still do this stuff if I lived on a desert island and nobody else ever saw it”; and 10 = “The whole point for me is reaching others”?

Creating for an audience

If you have scored six or more, as part of what you do, you’re also going to have to:

  • interact with your audience
  • be available and visible
  • care what others think
  • play by some rules
  • adopt some kind of public persona

The mix gets ever murkier when you add money. If you’re expecting your audience to pay for what you make, then in addition to the demands of making the artwork, you’ll also need to:

  • be of service
  • offer value
  • market

What do you truly want out of your creative endeavors? Do you know? The following exercise will help you to work it out. For truest results, f-r-e-e-write your answers.

Michael Gerber sets the scene for this exercise in his brilliant business book, The E-Myth Revisited

TRY THIS: Visualize Your Funeral

You are about to attend one of the most important occasions of your life. It will be held in a room sufficiently large to seat all of your friends, your family, your business associates—anyone and everyone to whom you are important and who is important to you.

Can you see it?

The walls are draped with deep golden tapestries. The lighting is subdued, soft, casting a warm glow on the faces of your expectant guests. The chairs are handsomely upholstered in a golden fabric that matches the tapestries. The golden carpeting is deeply piled.

At the front of the room is a dais, and on the dais a large, beautifully decorated table with candles burning at either end.

On the table, in the center, is the object of everyone’s attention. A large, shining, ornate box. And in the box is … you!

1. Who Speaks?

Who does the service? Who delivers your eulogy?

2. What Do They Say?

What did your life mean to them? What impact did it have? What have they lost with your passing? Write the words in the thoughts and voice of the speakers.

  • What do you want them to say about how and what you created?
  • What do you want them to say about how you did business?
  • What do you want them to say about how you lived?
Orna Ross
Author: Orna Ross

Orna Ross is an award-winning novelist and poet, advocate for self-publishing and, as Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, "one of the 100 most influential people in publishing" (The Bookseller).