That is the question regarding an audience, and it is a question that many a scholar sought to answer.
Both ends of the argument make fair points of times when it is best to write for oneself or to keep the audience in mind. Personally, I agree with this diagnosis of a situation dictating whether or not to keep the audience in mind. However, there seems to be a need for a side to be picked, and after reading the articles for this week, I think I have settled on my stance.
An audience is best disregarded.
Admittedly, this standpoint could stem from identifying more with the literature and creative forms of writing. I am used to the luxury that different interpretations of a piece of writing will not affect the quality. In fact, different interpretations can aid my writing and bring new meaning to a piece.
The same cannot be said for an academic article, which is meant to sway audiences to a certain point of view.
Even so, I stand by that writing without the audience in mind can prove beneficial.
I say this, because I believe it allows for more risks to be taken in writing. With thinking of an audience, judging their every statement, it can cause the writer to freeze up and hold back on points, rather than take risks, but I believe those risks are what is necessary to make quality writing.
An audience serves as a debilitation. Even in the example provided in Ede and Lunsford’s article, with a particular student hoping to sway her neighbors to have a center for mentally challenge adults built, there exists an argument that she could have still benefit from disregarding her audience.
That is not to say it was unwise of her to keep her neighbors of the community in mind, but one point that grabbed me was her writing to them as if they were intelligent and considerate people like her.
Wait. Why do these people need a piece of writing to validate that opinion of themselves? Wasn’t writing always meant to challenge and provoke thought from the audience?
While the student may have a harder time achieving her goal, she also has the chance to really challenge her audience into using more critical thinking skills. Also, it treats them more as intelligent people (as she wants to) by not pandering to their point of view.
There is nothing wrong with keeping an audience in mind when writing, but by disregarding, I think it brings us closer to what writing is meant to be: something to challenge us and make us think. It urges us to defend our beliefs and write more of what we truly feel and believe in, therefore creating a stronger piece. It is a concept that not only frees us, but provides growth and betterment for our audience by challenging them, so in my book: it is a risk worth taking.