How do you become a better writer? It's not always easy. There is, however, one sure-fire way to reach an audience faster than you ever thought possible:
Narrow your focus.
In a world full of choices, the way you stand out is not by adding to the noise, but by exposing your own uniqueness. Yes, doing this will exclude the masses. But it will also afford you the opportunity to find a tribe — a group of followers and fans ready to hear your words.
The only way to connect with an audience
When it comes to communication, there are so many options, so many opportunities, so many forms of media. What do you do? How about the one thing most writers are unwilling to do — the one thing they absolutely dread?
Be particular. Play favorites. Explore the details of your surroundings, and share them. Write not for the masses, but for the individual. Forget popularity, and be just plain weird.
Here's the truth: When you write for everyone, you write for no one. (You should tweet that or share it on Facebook.)
Exclude everyone but those who are most important to you. This is the only way to truly connect with an audience.
A writing exercise
If you struggle with this, here's a quick exercise that might help:
- Focus on one thing, anything.
- Write about it.
It can't be many things. Just one thing. Pick it. And focus. Write about it, and nothing else. Here are a few ideas:
- Is it the way your dog's hair sticks up in a certain place?
- The funny thing your kid said the other day?
- Your morning routine?
Whatever it is, get it into your mind, and hold it there. Now write. As you do, you will find there is great freedom in limiting yourself.
You may come up with more ideas than you ever imagined now that you've finally put a “frame” around your art.
There is unlimited creativity when you choose to restrict your options. It's counter-intuitive, but it works.
There is a cost to this kind of writing
When you do this, something suffers: You lose the opportunity to be all things to all people. And that's okay. Yes, you will eliminate a myriad of other topics on which you could've written.
You'll exclude a lot of people, too. But that's the point.
The point is this: People don't want to read something for everyone; they want to read something for them.
I want to read something for me. You want to read something for you. That's how people are — we're very selfish readers.
So write for that one person for whom this will matter. Give her a name, if you like. Put her picture on your desktop. Write for her and only her. She will appreciate it. Trust me.
The paradox of specific writing
There is a paradox to this. When you stop writing for the masses, embrace your weird self, and focus on being specific, something odd happens: You reach more people. More than just your tribe. More than that one person for whom you're writing.
Why is this? Because when you write for a specific niche, readers connect with your writing. It resonates so strongly with them that they share it with others. And it spreads.
This is why musicians and artists and authors become runaway successes and are shocked by it — because all they were doing was writing for someone specific, maybe themselves.
So don't be surprised if when you narrow your focus, you actually end up broadening your audience. That's how it's supposed to work.
What's your experience writing something specific?
*Photo credit: Grace (Creative Commons)