Which Audience is Your Focus?

When writing for any medium, should you be writing with your personality at the forefront, or writing to retain readers?

Picture this: you’re sitting down to write a piece for your blog. As you put your fingers to the keyboard, you pause: who are you writing for? There is always an audience to consider when writing, but which audience should that be? Zinsser’s discussion about this, including his paradox, is incredibly relevant for writing nowadays.  The paradox states that writers need to craft their work to attract readers, but need to put their own thoughts first.  Zinsser stresses that writers should not worry about pleasing their audiences, stating ”But on the larger issue of whether the reader likes you…don’t give him a moment’s worry” (2013).  No matter what you write, you will not please everyone, so craft it well and write from the heart.

Writing for yourself should apply in most scenarios.  Whether it’s a short story, Twitter post, or a journal submission, the piece will read better if it is true to you.  In order to create authentic work, you need to put your own influence on the page. 

However, you need to consider who will pick up your work.  Langello suggests creating a persona and writing based on how he/she would feel.  He writes “when a writer achieves this focus, what happens is the reader buys into the story” (2014).  This way, you can write with your own tongue and consider what your reader may feel. 

When you are writing for any platform, your audience helps you determine what information to include.  UMGC writes that effective planning includes “figuring out who your audience is and what specific needs they might have” (2020).  For example, if you want to write a piece about women’s fashion, think about a shopaholic.  Writing about sports? Think about the superfans.

Even if you are writing for yourself, your personality could appeal to others.  Zinsser suggests to “never say anything in writing that you wouldn’t comfortably say in conversation” (2013). Don’t force yourself to write with ‘snooty’ words if they does not reflect your character.  The only standard you need to live up to is your own, and if readers enjoy it, that’s a bonus.

Put your personal touches on the page, but think about who may relate to your story and capitalize on that. Touch on your own experiences and use them to create a bond with the reader. Making the story relatable will keep others hooked until the end of the piece.

References:

Langello, K. (2014, May 21). Should You Write for Yourself or for the Reader? Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.writersdigest.com/publishing-faqs/should-you-write-for-yourself-or-for-the-reader

U. (2020). Writing for an Audience. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.umgc.edu/current-students/learning-resources/writing-center/writing-resources/getting-started-writing/writing-for-an-audience.cfm

Zinsser, W. (2013). On Writing Well. New York, NY: Harper Paperbacks.

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