Hello, friends! Welcome to the fifth edition of the Wordsmiths’ Cafe. This is a segment of The Ladder to Rooftop Blogging Academy, where once a quarter we share knowledge and tips with our writing friends.
Today we’re going to talk about honing in on who your writing audience is, and about the one question you should ask yourself before you begin writing. When I started writing non-fiction about four years ago, my writing was all over the place. I wrote about anything and everything that popped into my head, as many writers do when they begin.
The problem with this is that while we may think we’re writing to everyone, we actually end up writing to no one. So what do we do? How can we make sure those who need our message the most will find it?
Before I sit down to write a piece, I ask myself, “What is the one thing I want my reader to know when she leaves my site?”
Doing this helps narrow all the hundreds of ideas I have swimming around my head. It focuses my thinking. It also improves my writing.
Asking this question will also lead to other questions, which focus on who your reader is. Some of these questions may include:
- What is she (or he) struggling with today?
- Where is she going?
- What is the one question she is asking herself?
- What are the problems that keep her awake at night?
- What is her family life like? Does she have a husband and kids?
Knowing who your audience is and what types of questions they’re asking will take your writing to another level. And while I used to think narrowing my focus would limit my writing, it actually expands it. Because instead of having to write to everyone and about everything, I can focus on the message that is important to me.
Your reader will likely be a version of yourself. It may be a younger version of you or perhaps an older, wiser one, but she will share many of your personal traits. Because we write what we know. We write what we’ve experienced and care about, and what we hope to encourage others with so they know they’re not alone.
So the next time you sit down, imagine your reader is sitting cross the table from you and the two of you are having coffee or tea. Think about the things you would talk about. Think about the questions she might ask you or the burden she would lay down because she has no one else to talk to.
Then, write. Write like you’re writing to her.