Technically speaking, I am a horrible writer from a grammar perspective. So terrible in fact that when my eleven year old daughter came to me this week to help her with some grammar homework, I looked at her work sheet and was admittedly ashamed that I couldn’t help her. It brought back memories of grade school where I spent many hours in the hallways, being disciplined for being a smart ass or a verbally abusive teacher killer.
I use commas poorly, I flip back and forth between tenses consistently and generally hate any thing that structures my thoughts and by extension how I write. I am however, an incredible storyteller, so you can only imagine my frustration with all of this.
I actually dread writing down my thoughts, because I’m very insecure about my writing. Not because I’m not confident in my message, but because I know my audience doesn’t judge me solely on the merits of my words but in fact by how my words appear on your screen.
It’s probably ironic in many ways that I now find myself touting a software product that does in fact help people structure their content before they hit publish. But here’s the rub, and what so many people miss when they get freaked out by our product or others that do more good then harm. It’s actually not about us and I cannot say that any more explicitly or confidently.
Without a guide to help me write, I’d be in shambles and I suspect you would have already stopped reading this. Charisma can only take me so far.
Once our thoughts, our ideas leave our heads, and get transmitted through our hands either to a keyboard or pen, they actually no longer belong to us. They do in fact begin to belong to the people who are reading them. Sure our name might be atop the page, but if we hope for those words to have any impact we need to give up control of them.
As writers we should tell stories that inspire, educate or entertains within a structure that is in fact about those we are writing for. Those two ideas are extremely compatible, and I’d argue no matter the era or medium are entirely relevant.
Writing then for any audience is really much easier than we think. If we’re able to transmit our ideas with charisma and emotional language we can connect. If we focus our thoughts on our reader and express our ideas in an appropriate way for their sophistication or knowledge level, they become more tangible and will resonate in a more impactful way.
It’s true too then, that we must not ever lose sight of who we are writing for. Structure, a measured guide, data science then, can only help us create that meaningful connection with our audience and ultimately our community.
There are those who will suggest that they don’t write for an audience. That as writers, they write for themselves and if someone enjoys how they creatively express themselves that’s just a bonus. I’d probably agree with that if indeed they are artists who use writing as a creative outlet, but if they write as a profession then they are extremely arrogant to think their audience doesn’t matter.
I mean why bother at all if you don’t consider those that are reading the drivel you are dropping.
I’d argue that in today’s digital age, being cognizant of our audience isn’t restricted to who they are, but it’s equally important to understand how they read. Millennials to date are the most connected generation and taking into account what devices they read on, when they fit reading your content into their lives and how they read your content is as important as the content itself.
We spend a lot of time talking about responsive design, but have you considered responsive content? That’s by the way how your message will “cut through the clutter”. If it’s just like every other piece of content being pushed at them, it likely won’t have the impact you intend.