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Choosing Your Target: Whether Audience or Subject

As a writer, you’re told to write for yourself. Write about what interests you, what inspires you.

At the same time, you’re told, in no uncertain terms, you must know your audience and write for them.

So, which is it?

If you consider the situation, the writer does write to her/his passions and to a specific audience—an audience who shares the same interests or passions.

Okay, that question became moot. Now, onto the next most critical question. What do you write about on a more defined level?

Well, the subject depends, without exception, on your choice of interest. If you’re a poet, you may write about an infinite number of subjects in a lifetime. But, for the Indi dual poem, you choose between subject matter, poetic form, and audience. The broader your initial interest (in poetic form, length, attitude, etc.) can help direct your path of writing.

Here’s an example. When I wrote poetry all the time—meaning daily—I wrote in multiple forms, lengths, subjects, etc. I got good at writing to prompts, finding angles of poetic approach, regardless of subject.

My personal interests in subjects, forms, etc. expand every day. Yet, favorites always crept into the overall personal repertoire.

For instance, I thoroughly enjoy pastoral poetry, even though it’s considered passe. At the same time, I can explore language and expression through Asian-style forms, such as Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, and others. One might spend a lifetime studying and perfecting only these types of forms.

Likewise, in fiction, whether long forms or short, genres crossovers, and new avenues expand each day. Writers like me enjoy writing in many genres. One way to explore as many as possible and learn the conventions and requirements of each presents itself in flash fiction, micro fiction and nano fiction. The experience and exercise contain both frustration and fun for many of us. In flash fiction, stories run between 100-1000 words in length. Micro-fiction works run to 100 words maximum. And nano-fiction's counts are measured in characters (think Twitter).

If you’re more comfortable with non-fiction and its companion, creative non-fiction, the same rule applies. Writing travel pieces for newspapers and magazines can keep a writer busy all the time. A bit of personal experience, some research, and a good approach to the subject will provide a steady income or by-line recognition. Other subjects can also create life-long careers.

Your choices determine where you go with writing. And those choices ultimately result from what catches your interest, tickles your fancy or grabs you by the throat and demands your complete attention.

You see, at the end of the day, one truth about writing prevails. To find happiness in this work, it must hold your attention, raise your emotional threshold and haunt you. Without those factors, subject and audience mean little. You must carry an overwhelming need to relay information, stories, memories to others who might share in them.

The need to relay information will shape the subject of an article. The need to tell a story and get an emotional response from someone else helps to establish your genre(s). Your need to share memories that molded you into the person are encourages you to open your life to inspection by others who may have experienced similar events.

No blazing runes on ancient stone tablets prevent you from breaking out and forging a new path for yourself and writing. Like language itself, writing must flow along new channels periodically to remain relevant. Only writers can influence that change.

So, chose a subject—maybe something you’ve always wanted to know about, and write a piece on it. Write about the component facts you discover that surprised you. Or, a plot you hadn’t considered before and weave it into a story you’re already writing. Make it relevant to that plotline. Flashbacks probably evolved in a similar way, don’t you think? It’s possible.

The audience will find you. And an audience is easy to locate by subject alone.

What are you waiting for?

This constitutes your formal invitation to run with bull-headed writers who don’t know when to get out of the way of a storyline—whether fiction or not.

Until next time, a bientot,


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