Who is Your Audience?

Well this blog is almost a week old.  I’ve posted a few random thoughts and I’m beginning to develop a structure within each piece, whereby I pose a question or two and then invite the reader to “Come write with me”.   This morning, I’m sitting here looking out over Lake Huron ~ the water is crystal clear and gently lapping on the shores, there is a single sailboat off in the distance slowly making its way to who knows where, but obviously in no rush to get to its destination.  I can hear some birds chirping in the woods behind me and there isn’t a soul around.  This is my little piece of sanity ~ this is where I truly feel at peace….  But I digress…

As is my usual morning routine (by the lake or not) I scroll through Twitter and catch up on the latest news.  This morning was no different, but I found myself wondering, who else is reading those tweets?  And similarly with this blog, who in the world would take the time to read some of my random thoughts?  When one finally gets the courage to put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard you realize that all of a sudden your thoughts, ideas, feelings, aha moments and insecurities are about to become public. In this day of electronic communication, we are continually reminded that anything we send can easily fall into the inbox of someone else without our knowledge, with a quick “forward” or a more sophisticated cut and paste. But for today’s purposes, we are assuming that we know that others will be reading our message.

Does it matter who our audience is? I guess it goes back to the purpose of writing. When I think about all the opportunities we provide our students for writing, do we consciously ask them to think about their intended audience?  I know that it is an actual curriculum expectation and teachers include it on report cards. But if I asked a student, “Who are you writing this for?” I would imagine that most of them would say, “For my teacher because it is going to be marked”.  As adults do we write because we are being evaluated?  During the last several years, as I’ve worked through my Masters and Supervisory Officers courses, my purpose for writing was definitely for evaluation and I knew that my audience was my instructor.  Therefore I used a very particular style and voice when writing.  When I look at what I’m doing within this blog, I have no idea who is actually going to read this, so my style and voice can change and hopefully evolve as I continue to “ponder and post”.

I wonder how crucial it is for proclaimed authors to think about their audiences.   Does Stephen King know that only thriller fans will read his novels or does he hope to capture a wider audience?   Do famous bloggers, like Seth Godin, really know who their intended audiences are? I would never have considered myself someone interested in marketing and yet I find more connections to education in daily blogs about “Quality control”, “Courageous conversations” “Being interested and being interesting”.  In a short time, I’ve become a fan.  I listened to his latest book, Poke the Box in June and it inspired me to make some changes in my practice. It’s probably one of the reasons behind this blog.  What shapes his writing??  Is it as simple as if you are passionate about something, anything, then what you write will find its own audience?

 A few questions to think about….

If your intended audience shapes your writing, does that constrict you as a writer? Do we give students enough opportunities to write for different audiences? And what does that look like?  As we move past the era of marking everything that students do and towards an era of providing constructive feedback throughout the process and keeping the evaluation until the end, will students be able to get away from the notion of, “I’m writing this for my teacher” and into a world of “I’m writing about this because I have something important to say about this topic and I want to share it”?

What do you think?

Come write with me….  (I promise NOT to evaluate it 🙂 )