writing tip: writing for an audience of one

i’ve been writing more or less consistently for six months. now when people ask me about it, i’m starting to share some of my tips and tricks. obviously, constraining myself to ten minutes has been a huge part of how i’m able to keep it up. another one is following hemingway’s advice on the difference between writing and editing.

another helpful tip has been to write to an audience of one. this one’s from john steinbeck (i heard the quote via some podcast and then copied the text from brain pickings):

Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

i think i started out doing this with my audience of one being my friend caroline howe. over time, it’s shifted to be become more granular. so instead of the whole blog being directed at one person, now i have one person in mind for each post.

often i actually send the post to the person after i hit post. and if i’m honest, one of the best things that has come out of this is that i can quickly send someone a chunk of my thinking. i’ve done this via text, twitter, and email and it’s so helpful to have things written down and in public.

i do wish i did a better job of tagging so i could send someone all of my posts about productivity for example. i should probably go back and do that… but time’s up for today so that’ll have to wait!