I recently hosted the first gathering of the writers who have committed to Write Your Manuscript with Ease – my year-long writing mentorship! One of the questions I received had to do with the best way to revise a rough draft, and part of my response was related to knowing your audience.
Who are you writing for? Who do you envision reading your words and engaging deeply in the content? As you go through the revision process, your intended audience may shift and change. I have found it useful to return to the question “Who is listening?” throughout the process of creating a manuscript.
“All it takes is one person.”
This approach may seem counterintuitive. Many writers start out wanting to “connect with everyone” without a strong focus on an individual reader. Try this instead: start by imagining one ideal person or being who will listen deeply to your words and receive your message. Your ideal reader can be someone no longer alive, like a favorite aunt, a grandfather, or a teacher from long ago. Perhaps your listener is a four-legged friend. An ideal reader may be a fictional character from a book or a movie. You may choose to construct your version of ideal reader from the characteristics of different people, embodying qualities that you love in your listeners.
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 visualized one woman I knew personally and she became my ideal reader. I completed in-depth writing exercises describing how old she was, her family situation, her favorite coffee shop, and her pastimes. I envisioned how she would be supported by my words, and I spent time getting to know her on deeper levels. In many ways, she was an earlier version of me, so when I had questions about what would support my real-life ideal reader, I could look back and remember me at different times in my life and what would have been helpful for that younger version of me.
The more you can write and revise with your ideal reader in mind, the more your words will connect with others as well. Knowing my ideal reader allowed me to choose and share particular stories. As I was completing the final manuscript for my book, I selected difficult childhood memories with my reader and purpose in mind (healing and transformation). Our stories have the potential to resonate with our ideal audience and have the power to influence others. I cannot emphasize this enough:
All you need is one person who is waiting to hear your message.
If you are looking to nurture your writing dreams, remember to envision who will receive your words when you have completed your project. Build that relationship with your audience now, and it will sustain you through times of self-doubt. The power of the group will be the wind in your sails.
Are you called to write? Do you have stories you are longing to write and share? Begin now, envisioning your ideal audience for your writing projects. Then take the next step and join my Year-Long Mentorship Group: Writing Your Manuscript with Ease. You will be guided through a process to support you every step of the way.