Every writer has an audience, and the really good ones understand their readers. That doesn’t mean, however, they actually write for their readers. Instead, too many people create something that a only very small and generally non-lucrative audience will appreciate or, worse, they don’t take a chance creatively because they fear the reaction of those small, non-lucrative audiences.
So, to help everyone escape their personal echo chamber, here’s five groups that present potential pitfalls for any creative endeavor. Embrace them at your own risk.
Symptoms: Sharing inside gossip, retelling private jokes in a general story or post, delving into nuances.
Causes: Coworkers read/watch/listen/look because you created it.
Treatment: Nurture these relationships and self-promote to coworkers, but don’t tailor your writing, music or art for them.
Symptoms: Inordinate concern about offending Mom, telling family stories, unbalanced focus on your home life.
Causes: Initial audience is almost exclusively family, which amplifies their influence and instills unmanaged fear into the creative process.
Treatment: Focus on other audiences, pay minimal attention to family criticism and (especially) compliments. Very seldom do people lose their family as an audience.
Symptoms: Jargon and acronyms, less willing to challenge authority (be it elected officials or “experts” backing the status quo).
Causes: Fear of being wrong, lack of understanding about the topic.
Treatment: Develop a strong voice, write with passion and honesty, admit what you don’t know and back your opinions with confidence.
Symptoms: Reliance on stereotypes, pandering to the angry and seizing on bombast.
Cause: Lack of an agenda or purpose for writing, so it becomes an outlet for rants, personal attacks and whining.
Treatment: Know your purpose. Develop an expertise and promote the positive aspects of your chosen niche(s). Criticism is fine, but make sure it pushes people to do better and challenges the status quo. Anytime a post or story (or email) is questionable, sit on it for 24 hours and reconsider.
Symptoms: Personal musings or stories without any broader benefits, ideas, tools or lessons.
Causes: Lack of confidence, planning, or understanding of target audiences.
Treatment: Personal experience offers a great launch pad for useful information, so don’t shy from injecting yourself into your creative work. Just don’t let it dominate.