Should you write for yourself, or for others?

Dear Literary Ladies,
Which is better—to write purely to please yourself, or to write with an audience in mind?

No, you don’t write for yourself or for others. You write out of a deep inner necessity. If you are a writer, you have to write, just as you have to breathe, or if you’re a singer you have to sing. But you’re not aware of doing it for someone. This need to write was for me as strong as the need to live. I needed to live, but I also needed to record what I lived. It was a second life, it was my way of living in a more heightened way.

—Anais Nin, from a 1973 interview in A Woman Speaks


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Wouldn't you love to get advice from  classic women authors on writing and the writer's life? Here I fancifully pose the questions, and the Literary Ladies answer in their own words.

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