UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
by Greg Evans
Not everyone is going to like what you write, that is just part of putting yourself out there in a public arena. But that isn’t what is important when it comes to writing for an audience. What is important is to understand the audience that appreciates your work and building on that sound and skill set. Anybody can write and they can produce decent work if they are willing to work hard, learn and listen. The first thing you have to put into perspective is that you aren’t setting out to become the next Mark Twain or Stephen King because they already exist. You need to become the first original you and let your voice and the music of your words move your own audience whoever and however many they may be. An audience of 1 million or an audience of 1 person should be equally important because you can learn so much about yourself and your writing through them. They spend hard earned dollars and invest their time, time they can never get back by reading your work and writing responses or buying a second book or telling a friend about you etc. Just having someone read your work without a response is capturing that one reader for one moment in time.
You have to recognize what works with an audience and what doesn’t. That happens by having the courage and self-confidence to put your work out where it can be seen. I have had my maxims published all over the world and quoted beside the likes of Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Bob Marley, Dr. Seuss, Julia Child, Nelson Mandela, etc., But you can be sure that it didn’t happen over night. It took years of crafting my words and recognizing what was working and what wasn’t. When I write whether it is a maxim, a poem or a children’s novel there is always the music, a harmony to the way the words sound when you write them and when you read it back to yourself. It just works and your mind hears when it sounds right. Sometimes it sounds right on the first try and other times it takes twenty revisions but you keep at it until you hear that harmony. Then you put it out into the arena of public opinion and get a whole different perspective, often many different ones and you see what, on average, are moving people. What is grabbing them and what seems to become stagnant. You can get a feel for how words work with your style and your voice and you try to capture it again and again until eventually it becomes second nature. You eventually sit down to write and your mind is tuned-in to a certain sound and the way the words resonate and you do it without thinking or trying. Now there are some people where this is a natural gift and they can sit down and write and bang, it just plain works. But for most people, and the list of great writers that have had to fine tune their craft is long, it’s a continual learning process. To understand your audience is to understand your own writing style and capabilities and for everyone it is different. Most writers out there want to be appreciated for what they create. If you weren’t interested in other people reading and enjoying your work you wouldn’t be reading this article. You have to move yourself with your work before you will be able to capture an audience. You can’t be discouraged early on if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you may have hoped. You sit at the table at night and put down your deepest thoughts onto paper and you see yourself as some literary genius and you just might be, but when you put it out there the reception is poor. That doesn’t necessarily mean your not a great writer. It just means your words aren’t creating the harmony that attracts people to certain writers. Ask your audience where you are struggling. Is it in the detail, dialogue or narrative? And don’t take it personally. Accept it as a challenge to improve. Rejection is good. It helps you to become a better writer. Look at James Joyce, Dr. Seuss, Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, William Burroughs, all writers that faced horrible rejection early on and went on to finding their own voice and an audience that appreciated it. They were able to become successful by remaining true to themselves while taking the time to understand their audience, and the people that cared enough to give them opinions, both the good and bad. Listen to what other people have to say because there is a good chance that you are not the smartest person in the room. And if you are, listen anyway. You can learn something from everyone around you if you choose.