Know your audience (Who are you?)

I’m new here.

My first post was supposed to be at the end of December. It was titled, “What did you write in 2017.” But then my snarky inner voice chimed in, “did you even write anything in 2017?”

Of course I wrote.


What I wrote in 2017

I wrote shopping lists and to-do lists.

I wrote cover letters, thank you letters, and condolence letters.

I wrote job announcements and bid announcements.

I wrote newsletters and love letters.


I wrote finance reports, grant reports, and project reports. I wrote e-mails (so many e-mails).

Most of my writing is anonymous or functional. The majority is both. It is technical writing, which means it is a step in a process, but not the final product. The benefit s of this type of writing is that it is published, it is read, and it is paid. The downside is that my writing is functional. It is more likely to alter someone’s to-do list than their sense of wonder.

My favorite part of being a pen-for-hire is knowing my purpose. My audience varies from officers at the Environmental Protection Agency, to parents at an after-school program, to clowns. When I sit down to write, the first question I ask myself is “who will read this”? Followed closely by “why am I writing this.” How I write, and what details I include, vary based on the reader.

This clarity can be a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to creative writing. One of the biggest challenges I face when I sit down to my creative projects is a sense of purpose. There is no deadline. There is no guaranteed paycheck. And, most troubling, there is no audience. 2017 wasn’t exclusively a year of functional writing. I also I wrote two plays, two performances pieces, and six (and a half) short stories. Some of these pieces have been performed or shared in a workshop, but most have only had an audience of one (me).

One of my goals for 2018, is to get more work in front of an audience.

That’s where you come in.


Who are you?

The trouble is, I don’t know you.

Who are you? What do you want to read? What brings you to Live To Write, Write To Live?

I’m excited to write about: making time for a writing practice, combatting self-doubt, sharing unfinished work, and blogging ethics. What do you want to read?

I look forward to reading your responses in the comments and getting to know you!

Small_headshotNaomi Shafer is a writer, performer, and project manager. She works for Clowns Without Borders. Her written work has been performed at an array of theaters, including Actors Theatre of Louisville, Middlebury College, the New England Youth Theatre, and Peppercorn Theatre. She has dueling degrees in business and playwriting.

38 thoughts on “Know your audience (Who are you?)

  1. thanks for sharing. you are most wellcome.

    On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 4:03 PM, Live to Write – Write to Live wrote:

    > Naomi Shafer posted: “I’m new here. My first post was supposed to be at > the end of December. It was titled, “What did you write in 2017.” But then > my snarky inner voice chimed in, “did you even write anything in 2017?” Of > course I wrote. I wrote shopping lists and to-do l” >

  2. An interesting post. Only one immediate comment, your info says you have “duelling degrees” – this made me think of fights, the three musketeers, men with swords and pistols etc, Surely it should be “dual” degrees – ie in more than one subject? At least it attracted my interest – was that intentional, perhaps?

  3. Hi Naomi, I am a retired schoolteacher living in Sussex UK who writes novels – and blogs to try to discover fellow writers who self publish and readers who want to know more about my books or like my poems.
    I recently wrote a pantomime for audio production but my main interest is writing and publishing easy to read relationship novels,many of them set in this locality. I have two websites ( which connects to my blog) and ( which connects to amazon)
    I read anything from Stephen King to sagas and the odd chicklit but I like mysteries best.

  4. Hello Naomi! I read Live to Write, Write to Live because of the variety of voices and experience – and it’s lovely to read a new writer here. I don’t write professionally but have always written (I have two blogs on WordPress) but I also draw, and am an Urban Sketcher – stories of all kinds, and recording life are what I’m about. I’m from Yorkshire, in the North of England – another reason why I love reading about life on the other side of the ocean. Welcome – and very best wishes for 2018 and for all that goes on here on WordPress!

    • Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve just started sharing my drawings, and love the Urban Sketchers movement. The challenge of putting a moment onto a page has taught me about writing and storytelling.

  5. After years of writing technical, functional stuff, reports, emails, etc, etc, I too have been struggling to write anything personal, creative, even a letter (to be emailed of course) to a friend. I feel I have lost touch with people. People who I know (but it feels like people I once knew) and people like you that I don’t know personally.

    I look at my site stats to see which posts are popular, presumably they are the sort that people want to read. Then I look at a blank screen, and still wonder what am I going to write about, and how.

    • Yes! And sometimes the distance from “what to write” and “how to write” is the greatest of all. I sometimes have whole essays that feel so urgent in my head, but stall when faced with a blinking cursor. Looking forward to exploring this more.

  6. After a career in academia, writing in the third person and passive voice and past tense, it has taken me about three years to re-tool to creative non-fiction writing. Struggling to finish a memoir about a difficult subject. Doing a few short performance pieces in front of a live audience has been really fun! Never too old to learn something new (just turned 70). I look forward to your contributions. And I love the ‘dueling’ degrees!

  7. I appreciated your entry today. I am 74 and passionately believe that continuing to learn particularly if you have a passion to write is one of the great blessings in this life. I knew I had to do something with all the many manuscripts I had around the house.(awful to die or something with all that jumble) I wrote short stories, bear stories for children, journals, began novels, wrote scripts for school plays and generally simply wrote. It was as if a pen was attached to me. Love your passion and also the diversity of dueling degrees. I self-published my first book Beyond the Ashes and certainly have never regretted completing and processing some of the accumulated pages etc.I now have five in print. They are uniquely my voice. Find you own voice is my advice. Don’t mimic or try to be someone else. Simply write a bit of who you are on a regular basis. Maybe indeed ‘uniquely you’ has much, very much to come forth in the years ahead. Let you life and the world around inspire you daily. I was asked by a friend to start a website and tell of the journey. http;// is the site if you ever want to visit. I hope it will encourage/or inspire. During my youth I was so busy with family and life writing scraps were often just on back of shopping lists. nothing significant maybe………sunlight filtered through battered brown leaf. ?? Useless bit of info? yet……I filed it in a box. Cheers! .

    • I love your description of always having a pen attached to you and “writing scraps.” How wonderful that all those scraps and stolen moments of writing have become many books!

  8. Hi Naomi,
    I agree with Faye. I think you should write for you. You will attract to you those who are interested in what you have to say. There are so many of us aspiring to be writers or just express what is on our minds, sharing our ideas and journeys. Trust you instincts to write what Naomi wants to share. “If you build it, they will come.”

  9. Hi Naomi, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have totally written for an audience of one for so long, and it got to be isolating. So that’s when I mustered up the courage to start a blog last summer. It’s fun, but it does get disheartening at times, esp. with the stats. The heart of the matter is that I’m writing because I love to write…if only I could remember that always!!
    I hope you enjoy writing your new blog and looking forward to reading them!

  10. Thank you Naomi, it’s good to know your audience. I am Oduor Josephat from Kenya. I possess a degree in communication and public relations, interaction with great minds like you is part of my life. Your stories are enriching and I get inspired whenever I read them.


    On Jan 17, 2018 14:03, “Live to Write – Write to Live” wrote:

    > Naomi Shafer posted: “I’m new here. My first post was supposed to be at > the end of December. It was titled, “What did you write in 2017.” But then > my snarky inner voice chimed in, “did you even write anything in 2017?” Of > course I wrote. I wrote shopping lists and to-do l” >

  11. Hey Naomi!
    I think you’ll find the site very welcoming and rewarding, as long as you keep up with it. Can’t wait to read more from you!

  12. Hey Naomi,
    I am also new here. Trying to find something useful to sustain my passion for writing. My writing has been functional too. When writing letters, proposals and reports, I ask myself three key questions:
    1. What do I want the reader to KNOW?
    2. What do I want the reader to FEEL?
    3. What do I want the reader to DO?
    Of course, understanding my audience, their likes and interests and what they are passionate about makes it easier for me to do write.

  13. Hello Naomi I am from Brisbane. I have still not written any books as such, but I am a survivor of long term depression and my blog is about my journey towards wellness. I am have been writing about what we need to do on our part, as there are so many subtle points that only we know how to go about.
    Now after 2 years I have detoured and write little poems also as well as general topics of life itself but relevant to mental health. I am more on the philosophy, psychology and health books as that is my line now. Glad to see you here. Looking forward to reading your articles. Happy writing ❤

  14. I have just joined too. I find I have many poignant thoughts but getting the time to write eludes me. The writing I do is as yours is, functional and I find it is squashing my enthusiasm. However, it pays some of the bills at the end of the month so it stays and continue to have fleeting thoughts that could become something so much more but never do.
    I’d like to read another persons perspective on maintaining pace when you write the same type of pieces continuously. Especially when those pieces are not intellectually stimulating in any way.

  15. Who are you?
    Well, I’m a traveler. I spent over a decade crossing the world in search of things which can inspire, or feel like home. It took almost all of that time going here and there to find myself and now I can finally rest and express that on paper. It just so happens that those thoughts are fantasy, which puts me in a long line of people seeking publication.

    What do you want to read?
    Whatever catches my attention. I love old world things and tradition, if there’s anything I want to read, it’s about those old world traditions and ideas that I’m not familiar with -Creatures too.

    What brings you to Live To Write, Write To Live?
    Perhaps to see what similarities there are between writers. I don’t know any of them in real life, so this is the closest I come.

  16. Hello Naomi:
    Thank you for for your words I am too very new here, I hope to learn a lot from myself as well as other writers, I have written many stories but have no audience, I hope that with my new blog I will find my path to a serious career. You have inspired me to write a thought for the day. thank you.

  17. Hi Naomi. It’s fantastic that you have an audience to write for as part of your job. I can understand how that might limit your on-the-side creative writing projects. My writing is also on the side – as a physician-in-training, I write a lot, every day. And by hand! Oh, some days my hand is cramped right up, and my writer’s bump (or callous, I call it my writer’s bump) is probably there for life. What do I write? Patient notes either for admissions or for daily patient charting.

    I too am new to wordpress. I enjoy writing about medicine and it is encouraged in our training to write on the more human side of medicine, as a therapeutic release of sort.

  18. Hi naomi,
    I’m very very new here! Still not really sure how to do this blogging malarchy! 😂 I love to write poetry that, as you said, captures a sense of wonder. I also aspire to encouraging people to look up as it were in the midst of the craziness of life. Yes I write to encourage myself and others on the journey. Thank you for encouraging us to share. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

  19. Pingback: Know your audience (Who are you?) — Live to Write – Write to Live – Site Title

  20. Pingback: If you want to write, write! And other infuriating advice | Live to Write – Write to Live

  21. Hello! I just put (threw) my blog together yesterday. I wrote a piece that is very personal and I’m really proud of. I literally HAD to get it out there (I’d love for you to take a look). No one has visited my site, so apparently I still have much to learn about blogs. I read the items that you like to write about…and thought…those are the things I like to read about . Other items that are of interest to me are wellness, meditation, nature, spreading kindness. 🙂

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