One of the things writers have to think about is who they are writing for. Who is their target audience? Are their stories for children? For teens? For bored housewives? For literature buff English majors? Sometimes the themes are the same, but obviously the writing, the characters, the focus of the scenes are drastically different.
I never used to think about my audience. Well, obviously when I wrote stories for class I was writing with my teacher in mind, but for the most part, I have always written for myself. Occasionally I wrote with the intention of showing my closest friends what I had written, but I mostly figured I'd be the only one to ever see it. I wrote all kinds random snippets thought up during class, from a dream, from a mashup of different movies or books or TV shows. Many of those snippets are still filed away in my filing cabinet, never seen by the light of day, let alone an audience. I haven't even gone back to read them in awhile.
When I started writing my National Novel Writing Month novels, I wasn't thinking about audience, either. My only thought for those first few years was to get to the end. Get to 50k. It wasn't until the writing group cropped up around me that I started thinking about audience, knowing I would ask some of them to read my work and give me feedback.
And then there was Nanowrimo last year...where I was truly only writing for myself. Nobody will ever read that. Not friends, not family. Maybe not even me. It was an exercise purely in therapy and writing 50,000 words.
Since I've decided to work towards publication, it's become apparent that I have to start thinking about it. Looking back over what I've written when I didn't have an audience in mind, my writing seems mostly geared towards the young adult fantasy crowd. I've tried darker, more mature stuff, but the YA fantasy comes most naturally. Now I can write with that in the back of my mind.
What's your favorite genre? I always like to challenge myself as a writer and try on different genres, so I'm always open to suggestions for a new project.