There’s a familiar struggle that I hear from writers and self-starters revolving around how to share their writing:
Figuring out who the writing is actually meant for.
There’s a deeper question to be asked.
It’s bigger than “Who is the audience?” and “How will this be received by my ideal readers?”
The question drives at the soul of the writing and why it was written at all.
The question, when asked, will more directly influence the merit, service, worth and value of the writing you share than any question about customer profiles, client avatars, or any other traditional “markety” advice on how to communicate well for an audience:
Understanding if the writing is meant for anyone else — besides yourself.
In other words?
“Is this writing for them… or for me?”
This is something that I think about all the time as a writer. I have to force-feed myself the reminder.
“Who is this really meant for?”
Even here in blog post #414, I have to remind myself to question who this act of expression is really intended for: if it’s meant for me, or for others.
“Say it for you, or say it for them.”
Although the typical questions I hear from writers and creatives revolve around “Knowing your audience” and “Figuring out which audience this is meant for,” the underlying question that is rarely asked is if the writing is for oneself (the writer) or for any audience at all.
Why is that?
Your earliest relationship to written word is not a relationship to “writing” at all, but a relationship through writing to the Self.
Think of pouring your heart and soul onto the page and witnessing all these wild, incredible ideas manifest through your hand as if you had nothing to do with it at all. Writing from flow and feeling the connection to spirit, source, God, the universe, love, the cosmos. For many creatives, words are secondary to using writing as a deep and powerful connection to the Self.
That’s how I began writing.
I long dreamed of writing books, but what drove me to the blank page and actually got me writing wasn’t to share lessons, messages and stories with readers. It was to unburden myself from the emotional knots and spiritual messes that were raging within me. Writing was for my survival. When I expressed it onto the page, I discovered a source of catharsis, yes, but more so a means of bringing my soul into harmony through emotional alignment (finding peace with what I was feeling) and conscious recognition of what thoughts were happening internally.
Today, expressing myself in writing is innate and automatic.
I’m constantly writing wherever I go. My journal comes with me from my little wooden laptop desk in my Rhode Island apartment to the edge of my yoga mat, to my dinner table, to my couch and bedside nightstand and my car passenger seat, and my backpack, and my beach bag.
I write so much about anything and everything that, at any given moment, I’m not quite sure if what I’m writing is a poem, or a To-Do list, or a future blog post, or a book idea, or something else entirely.
I’m just writing.
I just have to get it out.
I have to say it, and figure out the rest later.
And when you write a lot for yourself and for others, it’s tough to know if what you’re writing is “for you” or “for them” while you’re writing it.
If you happen to have a creative process like I do — where expression has to happen and happen often, lest a fuse blow — you need to ask yourself the question before you share what you’ve written:
Am I saying this for me, or for them?
Here’s why the question matters.
When “writing for me” is shared right alongside “writing for others” in the same body of work, the message of your writing may start to seem jumbled or confusing to the people with whom you want to share your words. Unclear about what you’re sharing and why you’re sharing it at all, readers might get turned off by your writing altogether.
Readers may even, perhaps, feel like you’re speaking against or in contrast to their personal interests.
You can see why this is an issue for us writers.
We write not only for our own benefit — to feel connected to source, to feel peaceful, to stay balanced.
We write to share stories, and messages, and lessons with people.
We write to connect within ourselves, and we share writing to connect to others — and allow them to connect with us.
But if you mix up the two? And a personal mini manifesto that expresses your inner angst and turmoil is shared in an email newsletter as if your readers might, I don’t know, learn something useful from it on a Tuesday afternoon? Eesh, that’s risky.
The risk is dishonoring the time and attention of your readers. We don’t want to waste their time, energy or experience. We don’t want them to feel like they’re reading something that we’ve written purely for our own benefit, not theirs.
Subtle as it may seem, knowing the difference between “saying it for you” and “saying it for them” can affect how your writing serves others the souls with whom you wish to connect, share stories, inspire, and make smile.
This isn’t about “knowing your audience.” It’s about honoring souls who generously allow you into their lives, consciousness, space and energy.
That’s all the more important in a busy, noisy, cluttered landscape of social media and instantaneous-everything. No one needs to absorb more noise and clutter into their attention spans. People are only becoming more disciplined, discerning and protective of their attention (thank goodness). Assume who and what impact your readers’ energy and space will become fewer and fewer.
And if you — a writer, communicator, entrepreneur, or soul without a title who just wishes to give good and meaningful words to people because your heart calls for that — confuse words meant for you with those meant for others, you risk losing those others whom you feel called to connect with altogether.
If you want to serve others, you’ll want to do your best to fully, deeply and truly honor them.
Start by asking yourself a simple question to better understand what you’ve written:
“Is this for me, or is this for them?
Question if this expression is happening for your own benefit (which is a fine thing, of course) or if it should be shared because it’s really intended for others. These are two different forms of self-expression. They originate from different energetic places. They have different feels, different intentions, and carry different impact when people experience the words.
Say it for you. Or say it for them.
Pick one. Say it “for you,” and let it be that, or say it “for others,” and strictly honor them.
One, or the other. Never both.
You’ll be that much closer to serving those whom you feel called to serve.
Your words will be honored, because you’ll be better honoring the souls who experience your words at all.