If you are writing for pleasure, research, or publication it seems obvious that you would think about your audience. Yet, I often think more about what I want to say, and how I want to say it, rather than putting myself in the shoes of my audience. If I ask myself “Who might be listening?” or “What do they need?” I can become my audience. They are people I care about, and they have needs and fears just like mine.
I can honestly say that I start editing and a fear wells up inside of me. I may feel blocked, lose my desire to write, or question everything I have to say. In other words, I live in fear of my readers. What will they say about me? Did I just waste a year of my life writing something no one cares about? Wow! I can hear myself thinking about me again. It’s hard to love my audience when I fear their response and focus on myself.
Taking time to picture my audience and spend time with them helps me love my audience. I have been working on my writing projects for a long time. I want to focus all of my time on finishing—just to be finished. But again I am forgetting my audience. By teaching a class, socializing, exercising, and going to meetings, I connect with my audience in a very real way. I can picture the student who needs this information, I can add real scenarios, and I exercise my communication skills, my body, and my mind.
Expressing myself in writing is so personal that it is very easy to get wrapped up in myself. Unless I participate in a writing class or workshop, I find myself often working alone in my office. With quiet time to focus, I can concentrate and do my research. But getting out to a coffee shop occasionally puts me in the middle of my audience. They are real people. They are all different from each other and different from myself. They are my audience. I can love my audience when I spend time with them, listen to their interests and concerns, and tell them about my passion for my work.
When my creative mind is open, free, and spontaneous, I am “in the zone” or “flow.” I write, grab information, and then see what happens. But it is easy to become overly critical of my self and others when I spend time observing, researching, analyzing, and editing. Then my critical mind goes to work to analyze and edit. At this point I begin to lose my sense of whom my audience is and the reason I am writing. You are my audience. I am writing this because I want to share something of myself. Some of you will relate to me feelings if I am honest. Others of you may will not understand my struggle. I like to read your stories and hear what inspires and motivates you. Share your thoughts and love of your audience.