Who is your audience, and is it necessary to know who they are?
Do you write for a specific audience? Whom are you writing to.
Many who teach writing or write about writing believe a writer should always have an audience in mind while they write. This may be true and beneficial in some cases but not required in others. Like just about everything else in writing having an audience in mind is something for each writer to determine. Yet, it sometime behooves us to write to a specific audience, i.e., the people who read a writer’s words. Knowing your audience clarifies your thoughts adds perception to your work.
Keep this in mind. Would you compose a letter to your mother in the same fashion and language as you would to your father, brother, sister or lover? Of course, you wouldn’t. You know these people, and you know what they want to hear and in the way they expect to hear it from you. If you know to whom you are writing for you will, in the end do a much better job.
Writing fiction or nonfiction
How many of us fiction writers really know our readers? Who can say, without a doubt, they know to whom they are writing for. Hopefully, we know our Genre, but its popularity and character keeps changing. What’s selling hot today will not be in vogue when you finish your novel a year or so down the road.
So, unless you are a prolific writer, have a following and can pound out a book in a couple months, knowing what’s hot today is not good enough.
Writing for a specific reader works well if you are writing nonfiction and you are up on what’s hot. Here again, timing is of most importance. Being an expert on the subject also helps. If it takes a year or two to write your book, chances are it will be outdated unless you have a unique slant on the subject and you are known in the market.
Unless you are writing for someone else, i.e., a newspaper, magazine or publisher and have a specific audience you are well acquainted with, write for yourself. You seldom go wrong writing for yourself, mainly because it takes pressure off you. But then, some people work better under pressure. You are not so unique that you are the only one who is interested in what you write. You just need to get out there and be seen. Your followers begin with one. I’m still searching for that first one.
As for me, I don’t like working for someone else, nor do I perform well under pressure. Maybe that’s because of my independent nature and dislike of authority figures. I have only worked for someone else a few times in my life, other than when I spent 20 years serving my country. I think that’s where I developed my dislike of authority figures and my intense distaste of being told what and when to do something. I have only worked for few for a short time before I got disgusted, gave them the old one finger salute and walked off, and I’m proud to say, I have no regrets.
Okay, what was I talking about now?
If I had to write to make a living, I would have walked away from it a long time ago. In other words, I write for my pleasure. I feel confident there are more writers doing this than there are who are making a living doing it. If someone else enjoys reading my words, that’s icing on the cake. I believe my real reason for writing is to find out what I’m all about, to reach inside myself and dredge up what lies buried deep within my bowels. I have vivid memories of when I first put words down on paper about my reasons for my wish to write. I actually trembled with fear that someone else might read these words. I see now my intentions were not to write to a specific audience. These words were for me alone and they remain hidden away in an obscure box somewhere in my attic where even I cannot find them.
Now, I feel more comfortable and confident. My objective is to write targeting a specific audience, and to do it without offending anyone who may stumble upon it and discovering that I’m really an anal person who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s not an easy task, being an anal person that is.
Asking for an opinion
Unless you are a seasoned writer and trust someone explicitly, it’s not wise asking someone for an opinion of your writing. If they criticize and point out your faults, it usually puts you into depression and you go into writer’s block, and if they praise you for your description, dialogue, mystery or whatever, you get all puffed up with pride and concentrate on improving that already perfect trait until it becomes boring and trite. If you are of a sensitive nature, this may push you over the edge. I fit into this category. However, in my old age, I have turned into somewhat of an old curmudgeon and these small irritations have little impact on me anymore.
I’m often criticized for not using more common words in my writing. Maybe I am showing off, however, I don’t use a thesaurus ( which I cannot spell and just spent five minutes looking it up) to pick out a more explanative, highfalutin word. Even though I cannot spell worth a tinker’s damn, I do carry around an extensive vocabulary in my head. I surprise myself quite often when pulling a word from my dyslexic brain and finding it to be exactly what I wanted. It took me a lifetime collecting these words and learning their meaning. Why shouldn’t I use them? I’ve read many a book with a dictionary beside me. I sometimes cursed the author, but I’m glad now for the knowledge I gained.
Neither do I believe in taking writing courses, especially if they cost an arm and leg. You only end up writing to please your instructor. However, I don’t advocate this for everyone. One of my biggest regrets in life, and I have few, is that I never completed my sorry education. But then, that would have lead me down a completly different path, one that I might regret more so.
I’m a firm believer in taking responsibility for one’s choices and not bellyache about it. We all are products of our choices in life. If you really wanted to be a millionaire/famous writer/editor, that should have been forefront in your noggin day and night until you reached that goal, very few stumble into these by accident. Do not blame someone else for not reaching the goals you set down for yourself.
Okay, that’s it. It’s not the article I started out to write, but I’m pleased with it. I even learned something. I didn’t realize I was an anal person. I’ve been sitting on that for a long time.
Thanks, and have a pleasant day.