Did you change anything about the way you approach your writing after reading yesterday’s blog post? Do you now realize that you were writing more for you than for your audience? Did you discover some ego in your writings that was actually keeping it from being reader-friendly? Knowing this and owning it is a good first step to making necessary corrections and adjustments in your approach to your writing. And, in so doing, you will move ever closer to engaging your readers. Isn’t this your goal, after all—to connect, to make a difference, to share, to educate and/or to entertain?
Of course, before you can speak to your audience, you must identify them. Do you know who you are writing for? Can you visualize your readers? Do you know who wants the information you are presenting?
Stop here for a moment. If you write nonfiction, you may know who you believe “should” read your book or article. You are probably directing your piece toward a specific audience; but are these actually the people who will most likely read it?
Writers are often sort of silent crusaders. We have something to say but, instead of speaking out over the TV and radio waves, we communicate our messages through the written word. Early in my writing career, I decided to crusade on behalf of children. I wanted to make a difference for children by teaching clueless parents some basic parenting skills. And I set out to do so through articles in trashy romance magazines. Why? I figured that many of these readers were probably not your average devoted, educated, aware parents.
Of course, this road led to nowhere. The editors of those magazines knew that the audience I had in mind would not be interested in these articles. Oh no! Most likely, the audience for my parenting articles read parenting and maybe Christian magazines. But most of them already have good parenting skills. Writing for them seemed to me like preaching to the choir. I wanted to make a bigger difference than that.
Are you trying to change the world through your writing? Would you like to convert sinners, encourage more reading, get people involved in environmental concerns, save the whales or stop wars, for example? Maybe you write expressly to promote yourself or your services. It’s okay to have such an agenda, but make sure that it doesn’t come through in your presentation.
Let’s take my desire to teach parenting skills to those who seemed to need help, as an example. If I truly wanted to help, I might have written stories for the romance magazines that included only subtle references to appropriate parenting techniques and the ultimate consequences for parents and children when these are not considered or implemented.
If you want to teach “green” practices to those who seem oblivious, first, determine what types of publications your audience reads or which websites they frequent. Use clever means in your writings to get their attention and, perhaps, challenge them to change some of their environment-damaging ways. Touch these people where they live. Find out what they care about—surfing every day of the year, for example? Hiking? Snowboarding? Make a point using something to which they can relate in order to hit home with your message. Find ways to teach those who are not seeking a lesson but, perhaps need one. Most of all, avoid trying to bulldoze your message through to folks who really don’t care. It is useless.
You’ll find this concept expressed and explained in my ebook, The Author’s Repair Kit. Herein, I discuss the “bulldozer book”—what it is, why it doesn’t work and how to avoid writing one.
Order your copy today at http://www.author_repairkit.html.
I’ve had a few emails asking about Lily, our kitten who had the horrendous accident 11 days ago. She is doing fabulously. Thank you all for caring. Read more about her accident and recovery at my Catscapades blog: http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades