Does you imagined audience help or hinder your writing?

As a writer, you are frequently advised to write with a clear sense of who your audience is. This helps you focus and tailor a written communication that will achieve the greatest impact. Such advice to writers is fine and probably useful most the time, but what if you tend to imagine audiences who don’t like your writing?  What if you imagine them frowning, scoffing, dozing or gagging as their eyes scan the page? I knew a professor whose writing was blocked by her recurrent inner visions of groups of graduate students laughing at her articles. If you are prone to having doubts and fears about your writing (extremely common) you may automatically conger up visions of overly-negative reactions from your imagined audience. This mental habit can be viewed as an intelligent system of ego-preservation because such visions prevent you from taking the risk of finishing and showing your work to others. These mini-hallucinations protect you from the experience of criticism, disappointment, neglect, humiliation and rejection, by stopping you from writing. That’s a good thing, right? Right? As a writer you do need a good internal, self-monitoring, bullshit-detecting mechanism that helps you critically review and edit your work, and for this it can help to imagine the reactions of your audience. For instance, if you imagine your audience rolling their eyes when you write a certain passage, that’s useful information that can motivate you to revise and improve. But if your internal audience is jeering at you before you even turn on your computer, there’s a good chance that your audience visualizing function has run amuck. That’s way more ego-protection than you need. Sometimes we have to continue writing in spite of the reactions of our imagined readers, especially if they are jerks.

About David Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, teacher, consultant, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Common Writing Block Problems, Feedback and criticism, The Blocked Writer's Book of the Dead and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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