“I don’t have an audience; I have a set of standards.”
Do you consider your audience when you’re writing?
I sometimes get a version of this question from students in my writing class. The answer is not as simple one might think.
My first inclination is to say, no. But that’s not entirely true. If I’m being honest with myself, then ultimately the answer is both yes and no.
No in the sense that I am not a demographer. I don’t sit down and attempt to craft a message for 35–55-year-old white females or high-school sophomores with divorced parents (though both demographics visit our website). Nor do I sit down and attempt to write something that will appeal to the largest possible audience, because doing so would result in a shittily crafted product. Constantly worrying about what others might think is futile—and can be disingenuous. This is, in fact, why we removed comments from our website—we didn’t want to cater our message to the 0.1% of naysayers stalking the comment threads.
However, the answer is yes in the sense that when I do consider the reader, he or she looks rather suspiciously like myself. Not that he’s (or she’s) a 30-something-year-old, 6’2″, white male, but I assume my audience thinks much like I do: open-minded, inquisitive, introspective, my typical reader struggles with important life issues—just like I do. He or she is inherently flawed—just like me. This is where we make a connection.
Thus, I don’t attempt to craft a message that will appeal to everyone; I simply write for you—someone who thinks much like I do. We will disagree from time to time—even I disagree with myself at times—but we’re both receptive to new ideas, and we’re willing to change our minds given sufficient information.
There are obvious examples in which this form of creating would not work—diapers, medications, computers—but for many creative types, it is best to consider yourself the audience, because with all our differences, there are millions of people just like me and you.
Subscribe to The Minimalists via email.