And Then There Were Three

Focus. Here and now, what are you writing? Why? Are you writing what you wanted to?

The Three I Hold Dear

What are the three most important things you should pay attention to when you are writing?

(Hint: It’s not the deadline. Nor is it the number of times you use an exclamation point or the inner voice insinuating how awful your writing is.)

Every writer has a different set of things they consider the most important, but I believe these to be the most crucial: audience, message, and style.

Audience

With any writing, there is a party who will read the piece and judge it. Who are they? What do they want? What might be their thoughts on the subject matter? How do you want them to react to your writing? Answer these questions in the beginning of your writing process – before you begin to outline or perhaps as a guiding factor in your brainstorming phase. Don’t forget it until the end, after you have finished editing.

Who are you addressing? It’s fine if you are writing for yourself, as in a diary or journal entry, but always treat your audience with their unique characteristics in mind.

Message

What do you want to say? What is your motivation for saying it?

Your message is intimately tied with audience. Depending on your message, the way you treat your audience will change. Do you want to sway their opinions on a certain issue? Respect your audience, and think about what they may already know and think about the topic. What kinds of experiences might your audience have had to think in that way?

Style

Style is a bit odd, and difficult to distinguish from other aspects of writing, such as tone, diction, and sentence structure. However, style can be viewed as a broader concept that conveys your message to your audience – in the way you want. It is the connecting device between your message and your audience. You could compare message and audience as two constructs you wish to represent, and style as the way in which you define those constructs.

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I discussed three rather general ideas to heed throughout the writing process, but they help provide a focus point for your writing. By attending to your audience, message, and style, you will be able to choose and direct your words more powerfully and purposefully.

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