Of course it’s perfectly fine to write only for yourself. Your published words, however, are not just for you.
Published words are for readers.
You agree to an unwritten contract when you publish. You imply that you have done your very best to write well.
Potential readers might choose to finish a scrapbook project, or stroll on the beach collecting shells, or enjoy a gourmet dinner with friends. If you want people to spend their valuable time deciphering your words, it’s your duty to give them good words, coherent sentences, orderly paragraphs, and something interesting to read.
Before publishing, many many writers work with writing partners who respectfully and dispassionately read their early drafts, to identify where there is need for improvement. Why?
- Out there in the real world, your writing must stand on its own. When a reader is alone with your words, there is no opportunity for you to explain what you meant to say. You can’t win the reader over with your persuasive personality or good looks. You can’t clarify irony or sarcasm with vocal expression or body language. Your words are everything. A writing partner helps you know whether you’ve found the right words.
- It’s a writer’s job to a bridge of understanding between his words and a reader. A writing partner is the reader who talks back to you. She helps you see where things are muddled, where the bridge isn’t strong enough to carry a reader over the vast chasm of potential misunderstanding.
- We writers are like doting parents when it comes to our own writing. We tend not to see our words objectively. We know what we mean. A trusted partner can tell us where we’ve failed to be clear, where we’re droning, boring, repetitious, where our voice is preachy, arrogant, whiny.