So far, we have looked at how you can build writing into your creative practice by establishing a regular writing routine. We’ve looked at the different ways you can do this, as well as thinking about what you can begin to write about. We’ve also looked at different approaches to writing, how these might ally themselves with the way you make, and how you can use your preferred approach to get started with a piece of writing, in a way that works for you. In this post I’m going to cover something I touched upon a few weeks ago: your audience.
The most important thing to consider before you even begin, before you ask yourself ‘what do I write about’ or ‘what is this for’, is: who am I writing this for? Who is my audience?
Knowing who you are writing for will help you determine all aspects of the writing – the tone and style you use, the language you employ, the length of the piece etc. Writing with the right audience in mind keeps the writing relevant and appropriate. It will help you to connect to your readers, to engage and inspire them.
Questions to ask yourself about your audience:
Who are they?
- Be specific: are you writing for the general public, visitors at an exhibition or trade show, potential customers (online or in person) or a selection panel for an application?
Each of these audiences will come with their own prior knowledge or interest levels.
How much do they already know?
- Are they familiar with your work at all?
- Do they know much about making: your material, your processes or techniques?
How much your audience already knows will help you pitch the language, especially the use of technical terms.
What do they need to know and what is important to them?
- Are they reading this piece of writing to get to know you and your practice better or are they reading it to find out your prices, or how you would like the work to develop in the future?
Different audiences will not need to know everything about you and your work: be selective.
How much time will they have to read this?
Visitors to an exhibition or show typically do not spend much time reading text, so keep artist’s statements short and snappy, whereas people reading your website may be happier to spend a little longer. Selection panels may have to read hundreds of applications, so make their job easy – keep text concise, dynamic and jam-packed with juicy information.
How and where are they reading this?
Your audience may be reading your words on their phone on the move, they may be standing up reading printed text, or they may be sitting at home on their computer. Different circumstances will affect your audience’s ability to engage; if they are comfortable they will give it their attention, if it is a struggle to read they will give up quickly.
Think about these things before you start writing and spend some time putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Sometimes we are quick to jump straight into writing, without considering what our reader most wants to know, or needs to find out. If you ask yourself ‘who is my audience?’ every time you start to write about your work, you will find that it helps to you to focus on what you need to write and allows you to write the words that work best for the situation.