Why to write to an ideal reader and 2 ways to clearly identify them

happy ideal reader
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You know how you light up when you are talking to someone who just gets it?  You feel safe to share and go deeper with that person, because you know they get it.  You have a shared language.

Now imagine talking to someone who you can listen to, and be polite, in a conversation that doesn’t light you up.  Your conversation may not last as long or feel as richly fulfilling. 

Like, you’re bubbling with a cute story to share about your kitten.  Your sister is not a cat person.  She listens because she’s your sister.  It’s a lot more fun rehashing the kitty’s antics with your best friend with 3 cats!

Not every book is for everyone.  

You can’t (and don’t have to) win over everyone.  That’s okay.  It just means that certain things appeal to certain people.

You can like what you like, and they can like what they like.

This is why it’s difficult to reach “everyone” and have universal appeal. 

Instead of striving to make everyone happy (and inevitably becoming disappointed because it’s quite hard to please ’em all!), it’s more rewarding to speak to a particular population or two.  Sure, you could be aiming to convince a non-cat lover to appreciate the feline species, and it’s a fine choice to make consciously.  But you could also reach towards those who will reach back towards you. 

It’s okay to make a choice to write to one population and not another.  

This doesn’t mean you’re limiting yourself or keeping your piece out of the hands of someone who’d enjoy it.  It doesn’t mean that people outside your target audience wouldn’t enjoy it.  

You may have people who love the story that you never imagined reading.  The effectiveness and depth of connection is increased when you can talk directly to the reader.  It’s about thinking of certain populations.

Consider your purpose for writing.

If you’re a highly educated professional writing a memoir for the general population, you might need to be more (or less) detailed to help the reader understand.  You don’t want technical terms to confuse the reader.

These choices are based on your purpose.  What are you trying to do?  Are you wanting to convey the difficulty to someone who’s never experienced it?  Are you trying to convince them that they can do what you’ve done too, if they start?

Write directly to your ideal reader.

Some people have never been in a pool.  Some people have swum competitively.  Some people have watched a lot of swim documentaries, but have never swum themselves.  

So people would have different understandings of a breaststroke.  

When thinking about how your writing will land for your audience, you need to know who you are writing to.  It informs choices you’ll make.  Like how deep to describe a breaststroke. 

How to get clear on your target audience / ideal reader.

First, think about your own demographics.  Who are you, and where do you fit along the spectrum?  Chances are, people who share qualities with you could make ideal readers.  

  • Age 
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion 
  • Education Level
  • Socioeconomic Class

Next, think about psychographics.  This is a term used in marketing to depict:

  • Personality
  • Values 
  • Opinions 
  • Attitudes 
  • Interests 
  • Lifestyles 

Broaden your brainstorm of identities to include anyone you think would enjoy your piece.

I hope this helps you contextualize your ideal reader, and leads you to the juiciness of engaging with those who really want to soak in your words.

I encourage you to write directly to your ideal reader. The one who gets lit up by your words. The one who you feel lit up to share with. To experience that lovely loop of energy bouncing between the two of you, amplifying the connection the deeper you go.

About the author

I help people connect and tell their stories.

I am a certified coach, writing mentor, writer, and group facilitator who enjoys helping people who’ve felt different and struggle with feeling disconnected.

Since 2008, I’ve worked with writers in every messy step of the creation process. I’m passionate about delving deep into the story underneath the story — the root cause of the struggle with communication — so you can feel good about the results.

For more, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list or explore how we can work together.

Connection through story: Honoring your differences (Event Announcement)

Do you feel different, struggle with feeling disconnected, and long for connection?  

feeling different and wanting connection

Feeling different might look like
being a deep thinker in a superficial world,
being introverted in a society that rewards extroverts,
having a body shape that doesn’t match what’s considered normal,
having an illness or disability that isn’t obvious when looking at you,
or being an empath, highly sensitive, or neurodivergent.

When you don’t see yourself in the mainstream media or those around you, you may struggle to make sense of your own experience. 

You may feel lonely, invisible, or misunderstood. 

Hiding parts of yourself provides safety in some situations, yet suppressing yourself can make it difficult to hear your inner voice, shine your radiant light, and share your sacred gifts with the world.

Writing is a powerful healing tool for connection. 

writing is a powerful healing tool for connection
Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

In this class, journaling and creative writing prompts create space for your full expression. 

Your quiet inner voice will lead you to the story that wants to be told.  Listening to your own story and witnessing others tell theirs offers deep connection–you’re not alone.  Your story is valid. 

Beginners welcome; you don’t need prior experience with writing, just interest in creative self-exploration.

Thursday, April 14, 2022
5 – 6:30pm Pacific Time

This class will be hosted by New Renaissance Bookstore. $25

3 types of resistance in meeting creative needs

Do you struggle to set yourself up for success in meeting your creative needs?

creative needs

“Be in control of your environment,” my physical therapist often says.  

If it hurts to reach up and retrieve a dinner plate from the cabinet, move the plates.

Such simple, practical advice.  So why does something so straightforward feel impossible at times?

Resistance can take many forms.

It may be a visceral physical feeling: pain, exhaustion, overwhelm.

It may be emotions: anger, sadness, fear.

It may be thoughts: Move the plates?  Where?  The countertops are too full.  Plates are supposed to be stored in the cabinet.  

It’s a shared space; I can’t go around changing the kitchen to my whims.  

This isn’t supposed to be happening to me.  It shouldn’t hurt to do something most people don’t think twice about. I’m too young for this. 

I can’t do it.  It’s too much.

What is so hard about moving plates?  Goodness, how can I fail at such a simple thing?

I should be doing more, working harder, finding solutions to fix myself so I don’t need to move the plates.

Sometimes you need to change yourself, and sometimes you can’t.

Sometimes you need to change yourself

To work harder, to take a break.  Fill a gap in your knowledge, leave your comfort zone.  Hold a boundary, compromise. Speak up, quiet down.

Resistance to the status quo comes in handy, pointing out where you can improve.

Sometimes you don’t need to change yourself

The urge to do more may come from an insatiable internal pressure and societal programming.  The instilled belief that (1) you aren’t enough, that (2) you need something outside of you, or (3) you need to change who you are in order to have what you truly want.

Resistance against norms or your own internal pressure can stem from your inner wisdom’s voice.

Sometimes you physically can’t change yourself

Due to illness, injury, chronic condition, or simply how your brain operates.  Time constraints, financial limitations, responsibilities.  There’s only so much you can do. 

Here, resistance makes a lot of sense–it’s your body saying, “no.”   

Changing the environment to meet your creative needs.

As a creative, you need tools just as in any craft.  To write: pen & paper, computer & word document.

Beyond that, you need resources: Time and space to create.  Peace of mind without other burning priorities and unmet needs.  

You may have requirements that look different from someone else’s.  That’s okay.  If your needs feel unreasonable, get curious and ask yourself–is this because you’re used to ignoring your needs?

  • Maybe you want your blue Bic ballpoint pen, otherwise the words don’t come out right.
  • Or your inbox has to be at 0 so unread and to-send messages aren’t nagging at you.
  • If you can’t focus in a cluttered environment, what would it take to clear out your room?
  • If a fortress of pillows and blankets feels safe, what if you turned off your phone, locked your door, and created a cozy cave?  Yes, even though you’re an adult and this sounds like child’s play. 
  • If you do your best creative work outside, can you take a notebook and walk to the park?
  • If you need a day to yourself and blasting music so you can focus, how might that work?
  • Conversely, how can you be around people to get into a happy productive zone?

Start with awareness of your creative needs–what’s truly stopping you?

Be gentle with yourself in your inquiry of your needs. Especially when it stops being about the plates and touches something much deeper. A therapist or mentor can help with long-existing raw spots.

It’s okay to ask for support with mental blocks. It’s common to not see an obvious solution until someone points it out to you. It might help to inform a spouse or family member to help you meet a need.

I invite you to think outside the box. Be open and flexible.  What if… I had the space, tools, and resources that met my creative needs?

When it’s all too much, H.A.L.T. (acronym) if you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  Resource yourself.  Break it down.  And try again.  Small steps can make a world of difference in your creativity, productivity, and satisfaction. 

Keep your plates from causing you pain and create an environment that supports your success.

Good luck and happy writing.

4 frequently asked questions about writing prompts and 7 free prompts

What are writing prompts?

Writing prompts ask open-ended questions to get you thinking. Guided questions makes it less daunting to sit down and explore your thoughts and feelings in free-form.

reflective writing prompts
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Who are they for?

Whether you’re comfortable or uncomfortable with writing, your words are just for you. Because of this, writing prompts are for anyone who wishes to explore and express themselves, regardless of how good of a writer you are.

Even if 10 people write to the same prompt, their answers will be unique. So prompts are customizable to your situation, and you’ll have different answers to the same prompt at different times in your life, or even times of the day.

When can you use writing prompts?

  • When you need to express yourself, but aren’t sure where to start
  • When you’re feeling confused or indecisive
  • To get back into a creative practice
  • When you’re stuck in a creative project
  • When you need self-care
  • For self-exploration
  • When you want a spiritual connection
  • When your child-self needs attention

The benefits of writing prompts:

  • Emotional catharsis
  • Release of physical gripping and holding
  • Listen to your inner wisdom
  • Clarity on your needs, desires, feelings, etc
  • Get fired up about something you’re excited by
  • Calm yourself after a challenging situation
  • Feeling seen, heard, understood
  • Practice communication
  • Creative flow

Wish to try? Check out this free 7 day challenge to connect to yourself through writing.

When you struggle to be heard

Have you tried asking others for advice, only to end up feeling scattered by contradictory opinions? You struggle to be heard. Maybe nothing anyone says or does feels right.

When you feel like all you’re needing is someone to listen and validate you, it’s really frustrating when it seems like no one is able to do that—offering unwanted advice, suggestions, or feedback instead.

when you struggle to be heard
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

There are times when you need external support, and times when what you really need is your own presence. Perhaps you know that only you have the answers to what you truly need and want… but you’re in your own way.

Compassionately listening to yourself allows you to hold your feelings, needs, desires, and goals as valid and important. You can make space for all that you are, even the parts that no one else knows about.

Seeing, hearing, and understanding yourself through writing can ease the weight of feeling invisible in your suffering.

I invite you to try a free 7 day writing prompt practice for listening to your own inner wisdom.

Last chance to register for Writing Class: Story Journeying

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Quick reminder: Tomorrow, end of day 2/24 is the deadline to register for Writing Class: Story Journeying.

This 6-week class will guide you to write your story, in whatever form it takes, such as personal narrative, creative fiction, or free verse.  

You can soothe your inner critic and allow your intuition to guide you to creative flow.    

Details in the link: Writing Class: Story Journeying  

To register and reserve your spot:

  1. Submit registration form at the bottom of Writing Class: Story Journeying page with your name and email. Your information will only be used to contact you about this class.
  2. Click the “Pay with PayPal” button to pay ($180) through PayPal by 2/24/21.
  3. You will receive the Zoom link through email after submitting payment. Please contact me if you haven’t received the Zoom link by February 24, 2022.

Please reach out if you have any questions.

Thanks, and I look forward to taking a writing journey with you!

Warmly,
Malar

P.S. Don’t forget to schedule the dates for the 6 weeks into your calendar.

Here they are for reference:
Thursdays, 4:30 – 6pm PDT
March 3, 2022
March 10, 2022
March 17, 2022
March 24, 2022
March 31, 2022 “April 7, 2022

You will receive the exercises and resources even if you can’t make it one or two days.

4 steps to combine elements to create a unique story

combining elements to create unique story
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Feel like your story has been done before? 

This is a common reason to stop writing before getting too far. You might ask yourself, “What’s the point if this has already been written?”

Even though there are tons of stories and authors in existence, there’s something that makes some pieces stand out in fresh ways.

Think about someone you know well and love.  Picture their idiosyncrasies.  Notice how their passions, interests, curiosities, fears, and quirks make them uniquely who they are.  

When your story idea doesn’t feel as exciting or unique as you’d like, you can try mixing a few elements to up the interest.

Just like a person with contradictions and quirks, you can add multiple elements of “you” into your story.  This introduces more of your personal essence to your writing.

To start,

  1. Brainstorm a list of things you’d be interested in exploring through writing.
    List things you:
  • know a lot about
    (e.g. diet and nutrition, rock climbing, volunteering at an animal shelter)
  • are passionate about
    (e.g. environmental causes, hobbies like crochet or woodworking)
  • love reading about
    (e.g. family dramas, coming-of-age stories, romance, fantasy)
  • are curious and want to learn more about
    (e.g. other cultures, how recycling happens)
  • have questions about
    (e.g. what compels people to quit their jobs and move across the world, what makes people wake up from toxic relationships)
  1. Take a break from your brainstorm.  You might go on a short walk, stand up and shake out your limbs, or sleep on it.
  1. Scan your ideas.  Without reading each word, which ones jump off the page at you?  Try to notice without thinking too hard.  Go with what lights you up, feels exciting, or intrigues you.  To have fun with it, you might try closing your eyes and pointing to the page to choose your ideas.
  1. Mix and match a few elements.  What can make a story even more interesting is to put dissimilar pieces together.  (e.g. someone who’s afraid of the pool has to learn to swim in order to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to meet a long-lost relative)

This is a great way to create rounded characters or a compelling plot.  It might even jog your memories and help you decide on a subject for a memoir or personal essay.

I hope this helps you find ease in creating a fresh spin in your writing.

Similar to how mixed media increases the possibilities in art, you can find new potentials in your stories by adding layers.

When you’re pulling from your interests and going with what you’re pulled towards, you can’t go wrong!

Good luck and happy writing.

About the author

I help people reconnect to themselves and tell their stories.

I am a certified coach, writing mentor, writer, and group facilitator who enjoys helping people who’ve felt different and struggle with feeling disconnected.

Since 2008, I’ve worked with writers in every messy step of the creation process. I’m passionate about delving deep into the story underneath the story — the root cause of the struggle with communication — so you can feel good about the results.

For more, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list or explore how we can work together.

Do you need a story like yours?

“Does the world really need a story like mine?” you may ask,
in those times when meaning is hard to find.

When you’re questioning your choices and berating your mistakes,
answers don’t come easy and there’s so much at stake.
When you feel like a failure, messed up, in too much pain,
it really seems like the world has nothing to gain.

It’s all been done before, so how much does your voice really matter
Others will tear you up and you’ll have to throw up more armor.

Is it worth it to work so hard, when you’re just not going to get very far?

Well. I ask you,

“Do you need a story like yours?”

Instead of a victim in the mirror, do you need to see a hero?
To cast yourself in a new role, a fresh perspective in your life,
with a lens pointing to some of the things that you’ve done right.

It’s not to build up your ego, but to embrace
every messy part of you, including your lonely and teary face.

Perhaps you need a story, where you can accept
all the moving—or missing— pieces in your life, even the ones you regret.

Maybe you need a cozy place to rest, because this is the life you have
And somewhere beyond all the tests…

is a quiet moment

Where you can sit
and remember
that you’re enough already
and things aren’t so bad.

Once that realization dawns, can you see a new chapter opening up?
Well you get to write it, because it’s your book.

To come back to your question, why not a yes,

The world needs another flawed, imperfect, at times unreliable narrator

with quirks and contradictions that often make no sense.

The world has room for stereotypes to be broken and boxes to be stretched.

Sensitivity is not a weakness, and your uniqueness is your birthright and gift
You don’t have to fit to any standard—you create your own parameters,
Just listen to your heart so you’re not led by your ego.

The world will shift as you evolve, so yes

It’s okay to be who you are
and it’s okay to question.
You have a place in the world just by existing.

So even if it’s just to yourself,
tell your story (and question it until it rings true,
not just to your mind but your heart and body too)

Until you find the people who will
and WANT to listen to you.

Of the 7+ billion people out there,
There is hope for connection to be shared.

Your story isn’t for everybody; it’s for you and those who resonate.
Not everyone has to like it, and you can never really predict fate.

About the author

I help people reconnect to themselves and tell their stories.

I am a certified coach, writing mentor, writer, and group facilitator who enjoys helping people who’ve felt different and struggle with feeling disconnected.

Since 2008, I’ve worked with writers in every messy step of the creation process. I’m passionate about delving deep into the story underneath the story — the root cause of the struggle with communication — so you can feel good about the results.

For more, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list or explore how we can work together.

Connect through heart writing

smiling crop woman with crossed hands, connect through heart writing
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All writing isn’t created equal. 

Language can be detached, loving, or even intentionally manipulative.  It’s helpful to discern where the words are coming from.

Writing from the mind

The mind can be outcome-driven, wanting control and certainty.  It likes plans and wants things to be clear.  It might change camps overnight, flip-flopping between what it believes.  Or overly rigid in its rightness. 

There’s often an urgency of the mind.

It might start with:

  • “I have to, otherwise”
  • “I should”
  • “I need to”
  • “I can’t”

In the body, it might feel detached, scattered, uneasy, or disconnected.  Heart-racing, ground-shaking, anxious, gut churning, chest tight. 

Writing from the heart

On the other hand, the heart is often understated.  

It’s a quiet inner voice and undeniable truth.  There’s no shouting.  It repeats quietly over time, staying consistent.  

In the body, it feels solid in the core.  Tingles through the legs.  An upward-swelling movement of energy.  Flowing around the chest.

Sensing into the difference as a reader

Imagine reading an academic research paper.  Since the content is theoretical and unemotional, it might feel detached or mental to read.  You might feel your brain working to process the abstract concepts.

On the other hand, imagine a creative person’s love for making their own clothes.  Their passion and openheartedness comes through on the page.  You find yourself leaning in to drink in their words and the way they express themselves.  Even if you’re not really interested in sewing yourself!

It’s not bad to be writing from the mind-space

The mind is great for coming up with many options, for problem-solving, for moving towards a defined outcome, for conducting research, for playing chess.  The mind can protect the heart with armor against strong emotions.

Yet the heart is the space we connect from. 

We connect from the heart

The heart is where we feel.  It’s the way you put your hand over your chest when you experience love, surprise, fear, or anger. Like when your kid or pet does something adorable, and you go “awww.” When you walk into a surprise birthday party you weren’t expecting. When your heart is breaking in grief after loss. Or when someone has said something hurtful. To calm yourself down before making a rash decision.

The resonance of feeling creates connection.  

Words written from the heartspace, even if they’re not flashy, urgent, ultra-polished, or attention-grabbing, can go a long way to connecting with your ideal readers.

How to tap into heart-writing

Above all, self-exploration is helpful to become aware of your tendencies.  How do you feel when you write?  Are you rushed or under pressure?  Feeling empty, numb, intrigued, frustrated, or alive with passion?  

Let whatever you’re feeling flow through you.  The sticky, forced, or loud language will pass, allowing for greater connection to what’s deeper in your heart.

Try to find relaxation with activities that slow your mind down.  This can be through meditation, exercise, gardening, etc.  Schedule some soothing time before coming into your creative practice.

Write for yourself.  Follow the quiet spark.  You don’t need to convince anyone about the validity of what lights you up.  Feed your muse.

Keep writing, keep creating, and look for recurring themes of things that bring you joy or make you curious.  The more you practice, the stronger your discernment will be.

If this concept intrigues you, I invite you to practice writing from the heart during my Story Journeying writing class.

Good luck, and happy writing.

When intrusive thoughts keep you from writing

a young woman writing in a notebook while sitting on a couch
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Say you sit down to write, and can’t concentrate on your project because of intrusive thoughts about a recent conflict with a friend.  Perhaps you keep circling back to it, and all you can feel is the stress response in your body. 

Intrusive thoughts can be really challenging to get past.  Even when you’re clear on what you’re wanting to focus on (your writing), other situations in life can get in the way.

Sit with it

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself, instead of forcing something to happen, is to sit with what’s truly alive.  Giving space for what’s here.

You’re strong, and you don’t have to fight every moment

Yes, it’s true that you can choose your focus.  I imagine (even if it doesn’t feel like it at this exact moment) you are strong, with powerful willpower.  You can choose what you want to focus on, and have those things.

There are times when it makes a lot of sense to choose to let go of a difficult situation and focus on something else for a while.

Yet this may end up being avoidance instead.  It could be fuel for an unneeded battle in your mind to fight against the pull of your attention.

It’s like if I asked you not to think about daisies. 

… Are you thinking about daisies?  

When you’re in a situation of trying *not* to think about something so you can focus on something else, check in if it’s worth the mental tension to do so.

Create space from within–the world usually won’t do it for you

What if you could set your writing aside just for a moment?  So the frustration doesn’t build up about not making progress with either your writing or solving this conflict.

Yes, you could be writing right now.  But is it worth it to give this situation the attention it needs? So you can bring ease and peace to your frazzled mind. Be able to show up to your writing with 100% of your energy. And with your heart open.

Journaling to acknowledge what’s real

Here’s a suggestion, if you find yourself in this place.  Allow yourself the space and time to journal what you’re feeling.  It doesn’t have to take forever; even 10 minutes can help create a shift.

As you’re journaling, identify your emotions and bodily sensations.  Let your pen move, capturing this moment fully.  

Example:

I feel stressed.  Nervous stomach, churning.  Body tight and contracted.  Mind racing.  It feels like a relief to write this.  

I feel worse when I regret having that conversation and rocking the boat.  I wish I’d just played it cool, said what didn’t work, and left it at that. 

So, those thoughts make it worse.  Thinking that I messed up.  Again, holding onto resentment for so long before speaking up. 

But I think it’s mainly about me adjusting my expectations.  Not sharing everything.  Focusing on what I DO want, instead of what I don’t, since that just doesn’t feel good.

I feel sad, because all of this is pretty tangled up together and it’s hard to tell what’s important in the moment. 

Like right now, I’m still trying to figure it all out, and where I messed up. But what’s best is to wait for things to settle and go from there.

Surrender what is too much

Some issues under rumination may be out of your control.  

Imagine pulling everything relating to the situation out of your body and energy field like sticky tendrils.  Imagine weaving the fibers together and folding it up like a blanket.  Put it in a basket, and place it on a conveyor belt moving straight to a caring divine source.

A bit of perspective

In creating space for yourself and surrendering what is too much, you are giving yourself what you need.  This can be more valuable than meeting the urgency to make progress on your project.

Finally, offer compassion for yourself, acknowledging what you did well.  

~

You might find that this process of self-care to be with what’s present gives you even more energy to pour into your creativity.  Your newfound insight may be applied directly to the characters in your story or a foundational approach to your book.  

Good luck and happy writing. Please feel free to reach out for individualized support with this process.