How Are You Relating to Your Reader?

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Last week, following my church’s vision meetings, I was inspired by the connection to our two distinct strategic priorities required for writing and editing:

“Do You Know Your Priorities As a Writer?”

And this weekend, God provided more excellent inspiration to help further define this fundamental difference between writing from inspiration, and editing to help your readers.

wineWe started with a clear objective: meet our friends for wine tasting event at Terra D’Oro winery in the California foothills. Having received some free tickets from the employer of a generous friend, we were excited to get together and see how things were going for everyone while we enjoyed learning more about winemaking and several wineries with growing influence in the region and beyond.

Not knowing much about the business and industry, we were mostly interested in connecting with our friends and enjoying some time together in the beauty of the early summer. However, as is always the case, our objective didn’t take everyone’s into consideration. It couldn’t.

Fortunately, given the wonderful people involved, our friends’ objective for the day matched our own, and we had a great time talking and catching up with each other about the past year. But it could have gone very differently. And afterward, I was struck and amazed again at how important it is for writers to realize this, that editing is an experience in relating with others. And in every experience with others, knowing your objective and remaining open to theirs is the very definition of relating. 

IMG_6801Think about this: to relate is two distinct actions. One is telling your idea, story, or experience, and the other is connecting to someone. Both are required for every writer. And though both are contained in that one word, the two definitions are separate and distinct.

Depending on who you’re relating to or with, you may be required to compromise more or less. Consider how as a writer it isn’t enough simply to know your own vision or strategic priority of relating your story–you’ve also got to know what your listener needs and wants. Sometimes that compromise will feel too stretching and you’ll resist. Other times, you may go too far and forget your own priorities in trying to make it accessible or palatable to others.

In my work with authors, balancing those two objectives is the universal struggle. My training focuses on bringing the readers’ voice and desires to bear on the writer’s telling, and yet it’s also critical to give readers a strong writer to connect to, one with a unique story related in a distinct voice.

IMG_6800That’s why I love when authors recognize editing is for readers, and that relating their story to readers is always a good, refining challenge to their vision. Whenever we set out to relate with others, we simply don’t know what competing priorities they bring. But if we’re open to listening and adjusting, we can achieve our goals and not merely improve others, but be improved ourselves in the process.

I believe this is the wonderful work of writing and editing books that stand the test of time. It’s what I’ve enjoyed doing these past 16 years, and each new project brings new facets of the process to appreciate and learn from.

IMG_6813Other people might have had a very different objective for their wine-tasting experience. And that would have required more adjustment on our part to try to relate with them while we tried to relate our own story and ideas. And yet the inspiring connection would be the same: relating is always a blend of give and take, requiring compromise and clarity about your own priorities.

Both are needed. And both lead to enjoyment and fulfillment in this pursuit of creative living as writers called to connect and relate all we’ve been given to share.

I pray you will know this very week that you are becoming more aware of all that was once unseen — and that it’s one of God’s strategic objectives for your life as His sensitive observer and recorder of His wonders….

For its all ultimately for His Higher Purposes that we commit to this process together,

Mick

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9 thoughts on “How Are You Relating to Your Reader?”

  1. This is something I’ve been thinking about lately…how not only to write, but how to relate that writing to others. Thank you for these thoughts.

    1. Luci, I’m honored you came to read. You already do this so well! Thanks for stopping by. -M

    1. Excellent thought to include! Thanks, Katharine. You already know what to do. Thanks for the encouragement to connect with the Truth. -M

  2. I’ve been marinating on the words telling and connecting. It took until this morning (I’m a bit slow) for them to click that they tie with the heart of the story. Is it correct to think that I need to make sure I’m connecting the heart of the story with the reader? Or am I trying to connect something else?

    1. The heart! Absolutely. Connecting is all about the heart of the story. Thanks for “connecting” that up. :)

    2. Is this where one has to come to find you these days, Jenelle? :)

      I have learned, especially lately, that’s it’s important as an author, to never come to the table with an agenda. Because nine times out of ten, it will never happen the way you intended. This is true in life as well, I think. Instead, while we can focus on an outline or succinct thoughts, we must be willing to make changes based on what will bring about the best end result. And sometimes that is the hardest thing in the world. Begin at the beginning. Remember to yield. And listen to the heart. It knows.

  3. Mick, I look forward to receiving these Monday Motivations and appreciate this one about what readers need…But the most important part of the post was the encouragement at the end, about God’s work in us. Thank you.

    1. Jody, thank you! It’s so encouraging to make the connection of our work to God’s larger work. In and through and with… And to… :)

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