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Imagining Your Audience

I have so many draft posts that are 80% finished, but aren’t ready to be released into the wild yet. Here’s something I thought of today, and would love to know if you have the same experience.

I am a dedicated amateur writer. I do it for love and fun, and mostly to amuse, embarrass, and horrify my immediate circle of friends. I have no real drive to “go pro,” mostly because I have a career I love already (entertainment marketing) — and I mean, I really really, love it.

On my birthday (Friday), I am getting two of my closest friends & clients together for drinks, and we are going to talk shop. Because that’s how much I like to do it.

But there are fundamental drawbacks to not being a pro, ones that might affect the quality of my writing. I don’t think of it as a job, because it isn’t one, for me. I do wait until I feel “inspired,” which no professional has the luxury of doing. And sometimes, I will want to write, but it feels impossible to connect emotionally with the story enough to make my writing feel true.

Today, I figured out the answer (for me): imagining my intended audience. I’m working on a private XXX-Mas story that is intended to horrify, embarrass, and amuse my friends. The first 1300 words came easily, and I cackled evilly with every paragraph. But today? I looked at the words and felt like I was writing a technical document. It’s not that the writing was bad; my heart just wasn’t in it.

But I realized my mistake: I was thinking, “Oh, I have to work on this piece.” My mindset, going into the story, was much different: “OMG, they’re not gonna believe I went there. What else can I do to make ’em squirm?”

Once I started envisioning the end result, everything in my mind just fell into place. It was easy to pick up where I left off.

It’s stupidly obvious to me now — it’s simple goal setting. My friend, a personal trainer, could have told me this in an instant; she always advises her clients to think of the end result (being thinner, stronger, etc) — not the going-to-the-gym part.

I am an entertainer. My goal is to get a certain reaction out of my audience. Without that, my work is meaningless. I don’t enjoy the actual work of writing, but the end result.

Is it the same for you? Comment below if you have something to add. (Gotta work on my story… XXXMas is coming, and my deadline looms.)

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