We need to talk

You need to understand people’s experiences of you and what your expertises are.

If I’m being honest about my writing, I would say that I’m the person who it interests most.

I’m rewarded by the energy I put into a blog and the style that I write it in. The audience won’t want to invest time in reading and making sense of my blogs when they’re written out for myself.

Dishonesty isn’t necessarily bad either, but it is something that will always incur a cost.

I’ve realised that I don’t really write for anyone, I’m very circular in my thoughts and I think it’s because my whole life I’ve unconsciously wrote to myself. Dishonesty towards my writing style and about whom my writing style gives more to (myself instead of the audience) comes at the cost of the audience not being interested; which then costs me my purpose. It’s so crucial that I shift this habit to writing for someone else.

I’ve seen other blog post about being true to yourself, about questioning the reasons that you’re at La Trobe and are studying your particular course? I wholeheartedly agree with this post. But I do think that discovering your own reasons and experiences is just one step in the process: the first step of many. I believe the next step is that: along with figuring out what you do and why you do it, you need to understand the experience other people have with you and your expertise.

Stephen King has said that when he writes a novel, he pictures one person whom he’s writing for. He relies on imagining the reaction and comprehension of this one person to his writing so that he can relate to his work through the mind of someone else.

A big part of high school for me was accepting that if someone couldn’t understand what I was saying through writing, it meant nothing. I was trying to create more complexity instead of simplifying. The worst thing was that I wore this habit like a badge. It was an immature attitude and one that I’m slowly jettisoning at La Trobe. Very slowly.

I can’t remember what person Stephen King wrote for but it was someone he knew personally; the idea is to have someone who you know (I do remember though that he explicitly stated spouses do not work – I agree). You don’t write for Jane Austen or F Scott Fitzgerald. You write for a family member, a co-worker, someone who is different enough from you that you can’t rely on intuition or complicated delivery. You don’t rely on them, and they don’t rely on you. The author and the audience rely on what the author has written, nothing else. It should be someone who won’t understand you, unless you do what’s required to communicate effectively. It’s a bit like the personal training of writers; a very lazy subspecies of human.

Since studying communication, even for these short five weeks, I’ve embraced the idea that if you explain someone something and they don’t understand what you’ve said, that’s your issue. They might not understand the content, that’s fine, but if they can’t even tackle the content because they have to wrangle your delivery, the issue is with you.

By Oscar Dobbs

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