Have you heard this before? “Writers need to learn to write from a reader’s perspective”. I have heard it many times, it is true that writers tend to think about a subject then put together the words to answer that challenge. Yet, the real question is whether the writer is meeting the reader’s expectations.
Writing is often a nerve-wracking, yet enthralling activity. It is very demanding, and does not get easier with experience. Additionally, a writer’s standards should always be rising. It is an extremely personal experience and one that connects them to untold others, those wish to read and learn. Should it be gritty and to the point? Fluffy and woolly? Readers are frequently burdened by verbose abstracts and fuzzy, lengthy, or missing conclusions. One reason writers must pay attention the reader’s perspective.
First Words, Not Enough
It takes something more than the first words we use to describe it. Often an idea has to reshaped, spat out and regurgitated a few times, before it approaches greatness. To achieve greatness, it has to gently assist the reader in understanding the idea, perhaps it needs to move them profoundly. They need to think of it as if it were their very own idea. You, the writer simply have the courage to give voice to it.
The act of writing is necessarily, a generative one. At some point in the writing process, you must turn off the inner critic. This allows you to unleash more creative genius. You need that critic once the creative writing is complete.
The hope, to allow your words to flow unencumbered onto the page. Add to this writing in free form, just putting your thoughts onto the page. You may end up with a muddled, awkward and unfocused mess, but the words are out and you can now edit them and turn them into something the reader needs. This is the point when the inner critic is set free.
Ideas in Motion
Writers have an idea. Then, after research and exploration, they set about describing the concept through a set of words. One of the questions that inner critic may pose is “why am I writing this?” This is a good question to ask. It doesn’t apply every time, but it does have its place. If you can’t come up with one or two good reasons why, maybe you should re-think the whole thing. Can it, then go to a different topic?
It is too easy to associate the words used as being all the idea represented, without asking if something is missing. Without checking to see if all views are represented. The idea has taken motion, but some writers believe it complete.
Vasudeva Krishnamurthy Naageswaran, says writers should “always have the reader’s perspective in mind, so that you could perfect your editing based on the queries that would arise in your mind during such a process”. The idea is that by questioning our work in this way we will plug the gaps that would otherwise be left.
Is it necessary to look a little deeper? Should we? How do you understand the reader’s perspective?
It is all too easy to forget to add something simple into that equation, fail to answer the words of a detractor, etc. To complete it writers must go deeper. Often nuggets of ideas have something about them that makes them great. The duty of the writer is to full examine them to make them truly great. By subjecting our work to rigorous examination it becomes more bulletproof. It helps the naïve idea become something.
Not every blog post has to be a home run or change someone’s life. It feels good to do that occasionally, but most of the time the change you wish to trigger is small. Like, looking at the ball when pitched to understand if you should swing or not. A split second decision to be made. It is about reading the situation. A small step, but a step in the right direction for one of your readers. The batter needs to know the right balls to swing the bat at.
Each article you craft should offer a unique perspective on something the reader needs. Good writing is all about creating clarity and simplicity. How can you give the reader that? With each piece you work on, you are adding to the knowledge available for that subject area. It is that which matters. Taking a reader to a point of understanding is vital. You don’t have to score a home run to achieve that, one step is good enough.
Gaining feedback from any reader’s perspective can be essential for your growth as a writer. By reading their thoughts you can understand what drives them or makes them think. Assimilating that knowledge can help you grow further and help you in crafting your next post.
Specialisation and Reader’s Perspective
If your blog covers a somewhat obscure, potentially boring, topic, how you approach everything matters. Your reader is also a potential ally here. Your work must touch the reader more deeply because in this situation readers are harder to come by and each one is precious.
Writer must strike the balance between sharing too much and sharing too little. Ideally they share just what the reader needs, but each reader is different, so how do you plan for that? Sadly you cannot ask them all. The reader on the other side of the world is asleep when you are awake and visa versa. If there is a reader you know it is possible to ask for their reaction before you publish it. This helps you tweak your contributions in the future, as do comments and social reactions.
Why does your Content Matter?
Readers know why your content matters to them but most won’t tell you. Are they a part of your target audience? If they are then they will often share many of the same views you do. Possibly, they read many of the same websites you do.
If you believe someone else is wrong then saying so can also earn you a friend. It is possible they have had similar thoughts. Also it is possible they had not considered the problem to the same depth as you and as you cover the topic see you as a thought leader on the subject.
In general, readers respond better to information presented from their point of view and not from the writer’s point of view. Do they expect in-depth analysis? There are times when it is necessary and other times when it is not. Knowing their needs can be challenging and at times you will miss the point. Do not take this to heart, just start again with the next piece.
Knowing what is Needed
Forecasting what is important for your specialisation would mean that you can be ready for your next article, and guarantee its success. Sadly the future is not always predictable. Twists and turns take everyone, including writers, by surprise. The topic being prepared for next week, when the day arrives is no longer in vogue, or the way people think. Trouble is, readers are often fickle, changing their views in a moment. Remember they also change back in a moment as well.
Think of your blog as your own personal publication, like your newspaper or magazine. It should be something you are proud of, something to tell people about. Do you have it on your business card? I do.
Write what you know. Be original, use your own words. Express your personal thoughts about the important matters of the day in your specialisation. Writing about a book you have read, article in the news, or another person’s blog post? Make it clear what the other writer says and what you think about it. The two can differ. Readers will appreciate other perspectives especially if there is a reasoned alternative.
Typos and Errors
Someone said that when readers find mistakes in a written text, they are always right. It irks me when someone points out an error I have made, and causes me to alter it, quickly, if possible. The possibility of error drives me to do a lot of editing. The aim minimising the number published.
Often writers, just can’t resist pouring out their creative ideas and began to write with everything they encounter. It is the nature of a writer. For developing those writing skills, every writer must also adopt the habit of reading regularly. This ensures you understand words and the ways to use them, the possibilities they bring. Meaning and structure are also something learned from reading. Whether reading fact or fiction it is possible to see how others use words, phrases, ask questions, build stories etc. This is important for the development of your writing skills.
How you edit and re-write your words must also consider the needs of the reader. Editing is a very fluid process and, in part, demands thinking from the readers view. When a topic is introduced, is there a background? Is one required? Does this topic lead on from the last? Does it flow naturally? What is superfluous? What is missing? These are questions every editor must ask. Above all a blogger must become a good editor.
Editing uses different skills to writing. Through editing bloggers must develop an eye for editing how the end product impacts the reader.
Keep those cut-outs to hand in a separate document. You may find that the piece you removed from the fourth paragraph fits well in a later section. Some editors swear by the “track changes” feature of their word processor, personally I find it an obstacle to effective editing but that is a matter of personal choice. I use Evernote instead of a word processor today for all initial drafts and 95% of my editing. WordPress is where I completed final editing for this content.
Resting on a Razor Edge
Truth is, the most interesting content rests on a razor edge. That amazing Internet, with abundant searchers from all over the globe is also full of other things to see and read. That which brings readers, also acts as a shiny distraction for even the most loyal of them. It is forever trying to lure those readers away with every chance it gets. Within seconds they can be gone, never to return. It is a double-edged sword.
Ultimately your best content comes from the heart. It comes from your experience and should be unique. It is that which attracts to you to the best readers. You cannot concern yourself with the fact that readers come and go. You must concentrate on providing excellent material taken from their perspective.
Ultimately that perspective is about matching (and perhaps exceeding) the reader’s expectations. It assumes you have researched both the topic and people’s desires. Words like “you” and “your” within headlines and section headings show the reader it is for them. It allows you to start by establishing a connection. You have to take the time to get to know your audience and know the level at which to pitch your content. Avoid pitching to multiple levels in the same piece. Create one article for one level of knowledge and another for the next level. Try not to mix the content.
One important aspect about understanding the reader’s perspective is reading the publications they do. Be fully integrated with the terms of your industry, but do not talk in jargon. This is vital for business writing.
Point of view and perspective create a unique writing and reading experience. Respect your reader, never put them down. Assume they are as smart and intelligent as you are, even if they don’t know everything you do.
Other Article that may Interest You
The author, Peter B. Giblett, has published many other posts about words and writing that may interest you, these include:
Make a donation to the upkeep of GobbledeGoox as a way to thank Peter Giblett for talking about writing from the reader’s perspective. This has been an interesting journey, think how you can do this more. Something to contribute? Please leave a comment. The images here were either created or owned by Peter Giblett or have been sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay or Unsplash.