The Different Ways of Connecting with Your Readers

Earlier this week, I talked about the energetic connection we have with our readers.  Today,  I thought I’d get a bit more practical and down to earth about different ways we connect with our audience or readers. 

If you’ve done any kind of marketing writing in the past or present, including writing your resume, you have probably tried to create certain effects with your writing, particularly the desire to take action based on your writing. 

Last night, I contemplated what the most interesting writers do to attract attention and action on the part of their audience, as well as the effects compelling stories and movies have on their readers.   This is my list of different ways a writer can connect with readers:

  • Present a vision for a better future
  • Present a vision of a dystopic future
  • Show subtle or shocking humor regarding life’s mishaps
  • Evoke a visceral response based on the powerful descriptive power of your words
  • Share complaints, gripes, hatreds of your tribe
  • Present surprising twists and turns to a story or character in a book your audience cares about
  • Scare your readers
  • Write beautiful, lyrical descriptions that touch people deeply
  • Share knowledge about a subject or process
  • Share wisdom of your own or someone else’s
  • Create peace through your words

There are many ways to connect with an audience.  You could probably add a whole lot more.  Do you have a preferred or favorite way of connecting with your readers?  Are any of your styles of writing and presenting information limiting you?

For instance, a while ago I suggested to a fellow blogger (who I knew fairly well for many years) that he was so heavily portraying the dystopic view of environmental issues, that he was scaring people away from the positive aspects of the work  he was doing through his business.  As he shifted his writing to include some more upbeat blogs in the last few months, it made a significant difference in his ability to connect with his very extensive list of readers, who he was previously scaring too much.  He still sounds the warning calls for the environment in many ways, but it’s not unbearable to read his blogs anymore.

Blogging is such a wonderful way to experiment with the different ways of connecting to readers.  You might want to experiment with several ways of connecting to your blog readers this year, if changing things up feels right for you. 

Aside: It can be difficult to see the effect of your own writing on other people, so you might want to have some insightful friends give you feedback, especially, if you know your communications are stuck in some way.   I’ve done this many times and it helps. You might also contact a writing coach to help with identifying the most successful approaches for sharing your message, story or books.  This is part of the service I provide with my clients.  If you’re the kind of person who is adept at spotting the strengths and weaknesses in other people’s writing, you might also consider becoming a writing coach yourself.  There are so many people writing around the world in so many mediums, and some of them might need the help only you could offer.

Forget your audience or tribe

In professional writing, there is an old adage, know your audience.  In recent years, it’s been morphed into lead your tribe.  In the marketing and technical writing that I do, this is good advice.  However, when it comes to other types of writing, I believe it’s necessary to throw away the concept of audience or tribe.  If you are a creative writer, I believe you should forget about your audience and tribe.

There is a profound difference between writing because your soul insists that you write and writing to connect with an audience.

It’s impossible to believe that Plato could have imagined his words would be read on a Kindle by people of every culture and race around the world thousands of years after his death.  Anne Frank couldn’t know that millions of people would be reading her private diary.  Lao Tzu couldn’t have predicted that the Tao Te Ching would eventually be read by men and women as far removed from ancient China as we are now.  Yet, perhaps some deeply wise part of these writers knew how important their writing could become. 

Writing for an audience has its place.  It is important when we need to persuade, inspire or inform others.  I learned as much as I could about my audience when writing grants to create a green business program for the City of Chicago. This is called being responsible.

Yet, deeply profound writing isn’t created in the same way. 

For some of us writers, there is an urge to write something deeply personal to be true to our nature. With this type of writing, be it essays, novels, poetry, prayers or songs we don’t know who will read our words. It’s almost harmful to our soul to allow ourselves to be concerned with who our audience will or won’t be.  Instead, we need to be concerned with writing what is most true, most powerful, and most heartfelt from within us.

As I move to the next stage with revising my novel, I am choosing to forget about audience, and instead I am focusing on the song that I’m singing through my words.

One of my special treasures in life is a simple bookmark from 1973 with a picture of a golden bird on a tree limb with this quote:

          Birds don’t sing because they have an answer,

          they sing because they have a song.

On the bookmark, there is no author noted. I once looked the quote up on Google and found it attributed to Maya Angelou as well as that famous author anonymous.   I’m not sure who wrote it.  I only know that it’s true.

May you spend at least part of this day singing your song without worrying about who hears you.  For you may never meet the people who need to read your special song.  Just sing!