Is something in your writing not working? Are you not getting honest feedback from your peers? Do you read your sentences over and over again, but can’t put your finger on what’s not working?
It’s time to stop thinking like a writer.
If you want your readers to love your writing, you must read your work like a reader. That means take on the reader experience. So put on your book club spectacles–because you’re going undercover.
Read Your Work as a Reader, Not the Writer
Read your work all the way through without a red pen in your hand or your inner editor turned on. Find a place to read your work where you enjoy your own reader experience, so avoid your writing workspace. Don’t take notes while you read, but take a mental note of points in the work that stick out.
After you’re finished reading the writing, sit back and reflect (and now take notes!):
- What was your reader experience like?
- Where in the writing are you confused?
- What parts did you love?
- What parts didn’t settle well with you?
- What did you wish happened in the writing?
Ask Reader Questions, Not Writer Questions
Separate yourself from being the writer of the work and be the reader with no connections to you. Readers don’t ask these questions:
- Did I use enough senses?
- Is the paragraph too thick?
- Did I establish the character’s personality/motives?
Readers ask these questions:
- Why did the character choose that action?
- What did the setting smell like?
- What is the character’s past?
Ask questions specific to the reader experience. What is important from the audience’s perspective?
React Like a Reader
The reader experience doesn’t end with the last page. Readers react to the writing, and not just in their book club circles. Readers blog, tweet, and review writing on numerous social media websites.
So now it’s your turn to react:
- What would you tell your friends about the writing?
- Would you recommend it?
- Would you sway them to read something else?
- How would you review it?
- How would you rate it?
- How would you react on social media?
When you take off your disguise, it’s time to be the writer again and own your work. Look over your reader feedback critically while still staying positive about your writing. What was helpful? How can you move forward with your writing? Journal about this experience and the next steps you plan to take in your writing.