Audience and Purpose

Why write? And who is going to read my words anyway? You might be asking yourself some version of these questions right now! To keep moving forward, it’s important to spend time coming up with the answers to those questions in a gentle and focused manner. When the internal critic starts to kick up a fuss, you will be able to ground yourself, remembering why you continue to put words onto paper.

Begin by examining what’s underneath your desire to write. There’s a reason you started moving your pen across the page with enthusiasm. It might be because it’s fun to write, or you have an important message you want to share. Perhaps you’re excited to share with other parents about a parenting insight. Maybe you have some stories you want to share with your family members, grandchildren or relatives in another country. Very often your initial impulse will evolve into something more as you stick with the process. The more words you generate, the more you will you connect with that Big Why that’s underneath the surface. You can continue to playfully ask yourself “why” each time you come with an answer to, “Why am I writing this?” Listen deeply, and your deeper reasons will become more clear.

Another crucial element to creating powerful stories is knowing about your ideal audience or reader. This approach may seem counter-intuitive; many writers start out wanting to “connect with everyone”. That approach tends to lack focus and doesn’t engage an audience. Instead, start by imagining one ideal reader; someone who will listen deeply to your words and hear your message. This person can be someone who is no longer alive, like a favorite aunt, a grandfather, or a family friend. An ideal reader may even be a character from a book or a movie. Once you have a person in mind (real or fictitious) begin to flesh them out. Give them a name, family, friends, a life. At the time I started writing my memoir, I imagined one woman I knew personally, who became my ideal reader. I envisioned how she would be supported by my words, and I spent time getting to know her at deeper levels. In many ways, she was an earlier version of me, so when I lost track of my real-life ideal reader, I could look back and remember me at different times in my life and what I would have needed to hear.

The more you can write to your ideal reader, the more your words will connect with others as well. Knowing my ideal reader allowed me to choose particular stories to share. I chose some difficult childhood memories with my purpose in mind (healing and transformation). Our stories have the potential to resonate with our ideal audience and have the power to influence others. All you need is one person who will hear your message.

Are you called to write? Do you have stories you’re longing to share? I offer support to emerging writers through online programs, as well as day-long and weekend writing retreats. Find out more on my website: www.mariemaccagno.com/contact.

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