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The Process of Writing for Audiences: Writer vs Reader

By Nichola Ward

Throughout the writing process, two main factors need to be considered: the writer and the reader. This post explores three important elements: the reason for writing, the process for the writer and the process with the reader in mind.

The Reason for Writing

Before you write, know your why. The written word is one medium that provides information for everyone. Every day, people are constantly on the prowl for information from how-tos to know-hows, namely from a list of instructions to a novel. Over time, writing has evolved to constantly meet the needs and practices of society, as adequately captured in a quote by Ewan Clayton, Professor in Design and external advisor to the British Library's 2019 exhibition Writing: Making Your Mark, stating that writing has always evolved in response to human needs and fashions. This outlines an important dynamic in the approach to writing because audiences and their needs have changed throughout time leaving writers to adapt their process.

Process For the Writer

Writers usually go through a five-step process namely prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading and publishing. There’s a distinct difference between the process of writers for online content vs print. While online content requires conciseness, relevance and clarity, print requires detailed and more in-depth content to sustain engagement.

As online information is delivered instantaneously, writers of online content have to word sentences concisely and persuasively to quickly engage the reader. The prewriting stage for writers of online content involves levels of research, as competition remains high for similar sources, and they have to know topics well enough to present them in the simplest form. Consequently, these writers have to meticulously word sentences to promote clarity, conciseness and instant engagement.

Writers of print would alternatively brainstorm ideas during their pre-writing stage. As they move along the process, they begin to connect with what they want to communicate and start to craft their sentences and story from the drafting stage. This requires certain levels of literary craftsmanship that integrates and encourages writers’ creativity, style and personality in their written expression. Sentences are carefully constructed to evoke emotion, heighten curiosity and eventually satisfy them, unless it’s suspenseful.

Keeping the Reader in Mind

As a business has target customers, a writer has target readers. Throughout each step previously mentioned, it’s important for writers to be mindful of their readers. As writers plan, they need to ask themselves what their readers want and need to know. This creates the necessary springboard for all written word and being a form of communication there must be constant connection between words and readers. Readers are seekers of information who need to be satisfied with what they perceive as beneficial via their senses, areas of interest, points of curiosity and emotions.

On a daily basis, readers get their information via online or print each having distinct needs and behaviors. Online readers know what they want to find and expect it immediately. To this end, writers of online content need to create content that is instantaneously relevant and relatable in one click. When it comes to print, readers are interested in learning more about the topic, so writers know their readers better. These writers, better known as authors, exercise their creative skills to maintain high levels of engagement with the reader not being able “to put it down”.

Create the Balance

Writing has evolved with time as humans do. Content always needs to be relevant, relatable and engaging. Metaphorically, when readers are online, they’re in a store needing a sales associate, when they’re reading print, they’re on an excursion needing a tour guide. Like the sales associate, writers of online content have to know and present products and services to arouse buy-in, and like the tour guide, authors need to know the ins and outs of the place of interest. In a general sense, writing remains a creative process where written work always needs to be planned, structured and restructured to satisfy everyone in the communication with the writer as sender and the reader as receiver.

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