storyrobot, my favorite improv blog, points towards this quote from comedian Louis C.K.
AVC: When you’re taping in front of a live studio audience, do you find you’re playing to them as much or more as the people at home?
LCK: It’s not so much that you’re playing to them, it’s just that they tell you what’s working. It’s like doing stand-up. You would never do stand-up without an audience. I mean, no one would even consider it. It’s like they’re the instrument you’re playing. It’s that intimate of a relationship, and they’re that essential to each other.
The audience as the instrument you’re playing is a fantastic metaphor. The more removed you are from your audience, the more you tend to forget that they are even there. A stand-up gets instant feedback, but a novelist might not get a reaction for years.
Do you take the audience into consideration when you create?
One more great quote from the interview:
You also can’t afford skepticism, because it’s preparing for failure, which is useless. You don’t need any preparation: Failure’s just gonna suck.