Know Your Reader

One of the biggest challenges authors who are also public speakers face is realizing they are one-on-one with the audience in writing and not one-on-many with the audience the way they are  in speaking.

I often see things like, “Some of you don’t relate to …” or “For those of you who…” That works when you’re verbalizing in front of a group. It’s not so effective when you’re alone with your reader.

Remember, two people are involved in the writing/reading process–one writes the words and the other reads them. Assuming you’re the writer, who’s the reader?

Most writers were readers first. That is, they learned to read and fell in love with the experience of words that took them places or created dreams or challenged them in some way. Once they saw the power of the written word, they began to write too.

Eventually, something odd happens, though. They get writers block (writers fear) because they’ve lost track of their reader. They don’t see their reader any longer, don’t know who the reader is, and fear of the unknown creeps in.

Well, you say, I don’t have that problem. I hope everyone reads my stuff.

Then tells me  you probably lack focus, for there’s nothing written that everyone wants to read. The Bible has more copies in print than any book that comes to mind, yet everyone doesn’t read or even want to read the Bible.

Stop thinking your writing is for everyone and get clear about who your writing is meant to reach–who your reader is.  One tip I offer my students and our authors alike is they should get a visualization of their reader and prop it up next to their monitor (most write on their computers these days).

Imagine who the reader is, then cut a photo out of a magazine and paste it up where you can see it constantly while writing. It will help keep you focused on who you’re writing for.

If you have a different audience for every piece you write, that’s okay. Just get the right picture out so you can look at it while writing.

Know your reader and your writing will get more focused and will connect with your reader better.

Happy writing!

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