The other day I got a book review of A Magical Life. It was a good review, but I think what I liked best about it was something the reviewer said, which spoke to how the book affected him/her. The reviewer mentioned that the book would move from topic to topic, from personal to philosophical etc and that it gave him/her a case of mood whiplash (which might be trouble for me if the insurance claim has anything to say about it!). Now you might wonder why like that best, and its not because I want anyone to suffer as a result of reading my writing, but rather because the writing got some kind of response. And to me that is what keeps writing real…when your audience responds. It may not always be a favorable response (though overall it seemed to be in this case), but a response of any kind means that the writing resonated with you. Yes even if you hate the writing, it still resonated on some level.
How do you keep it real in writing? Write about your experiences and be genuine about what you share. In this blog and in my books, what I share is my experiences, both the successes and failures because I think sharing both keeps it real. Anyone who reads my works knows they aren’t just getting theory or practice, but also the experiences that inform both. When you write anything, even fiction, there still needs to be some basis for experience, something you put into the writing that your readers can relate to.
Part of keeping it real also is knowing and defining your audience. Not just anyone will be your reader and indeed your writing isn’t for everyone. But if you know who your audience is, then you already are writing for them as much as for yourself. For example my audience typically has an intermediate level of experience with magic (at least) and is interesting in experimenting and personalizing their magical practice. They may only be interested in specific topics that I write about, but what all of them like about my writing is the unusual perspectives I share, and the different angles I apply to my magical work. Knowing this about my audience helps me connect with them better. At the same time, I’d also say my audience is me and I just happen to be sharing what I’ve written with other people. I find that both perspectives on audience are helpful for me because it speaks to the reality that writing while being for other people is also an intimate activity that can be just for you.