You’re in a great mood! You happily sit down to write. Tap, tap, tap. You are flowing!
Then, without warning, that person — oh, you know the one — pops into your mind. Maybe it’s an old classmate or someone you dated. Or a mom on the PTA. Or, if you’re as blessed as I am, someone in your family.
That person is the master of the backhanded compliment. They always seem to dismiss your ideas, your talents, your experience. And for some reason you still want them to like you…when you know for sure that You. Do. Not. Like. Them. At least not this passive-aggressive, competitive part of them.
You re-read your writing. It’s all crap. Suddenly, your imagination takes off to some future place in a different dimension. You’re a fly on the wall as that person reads your piece, and all you can hear is:
“Oh, how cute. It’s so great that anyone can get their work published nowadays.”
OK, let’s stop right here. We all have that person in our lives. Newsflash: That person is not your audience. I know you know this. Now I could put on my Psychology and Spirituality hats and dig deep on the underlying issues and dynamics here. But that’s for another day. Maybe.
Right now, we’re going to get you back to feeling happy and in the flow with your writing.
- Know your onion. Imagine you are the center of an onion. People in your life naturally fall into place on one of the layers. Your dearest confidants and loves of your life are the first layer. Then the next layer includes your past, present and future friends – people who “get” you. Then warm acquaintances. And so on. Where does that person fit on the onion? Are they even on the onion? Right. Keep them far out. They are not in the inner circle. Hear me now: Your writing is precious. It’s your insides getting out. Keep your writing and exposure of your writing close to the center – especially while it’s in development.
- Know your audience’s emotional need. Who are you writing for? And what do they want? I mean what do they really want? It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, getting clear on your audience’s needs is essential. Let’s say you’re an Acupuncturist writing a Free Report “7 Ways To Nurture Your Body During Your Workday.” The audience could be anyone, really. But what these people have in common is a desire to be productive at work and feel healthy at the same time. THAT’S their need. Hold that picture in your head and heart while you are writing. Not whether or not someone will like you. Or think you are smart.
- Make it a one-on-one conversation. One of the simplest ways I’ve found to let my writing voice and personality shine is to write to and for one single person. Oh, it can be a real person or an imaginary amalgam of people. For example, when crafting fiction, I write only for my sister Diana. Referring to point #2 above, her emotional need is to relax and enjoy an uplifting story of love and self-discovery – with a happy ending. Knowing this need guides me. But most importantly when I think of her reading my writing, I FEEL good. I don’t anticipate snide remarks, snarkiness or criticism. And I don’t try to serve a crowd with varying needs, tastes and preferences. If you haven’t before, try writing as if you are talking to this one person. That ideal audience member. You’ll be surprised at how much easier the writing flows.
Don’t be scared of being specific. Remember, if you try to appeal to the masses, then you dilute your work so much that your message appeals to no one. Not everyone is going to “get” you. But your people will. And they’ll thank you for speaking so clearly to them.