In an old interview with The Paris Review, author John Steinbeck discusses how he aims his craft toward one individual person instead of addressing a large anonymous audience.

Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

This has provided Steinbeck with a sense of freedom and a lack of self-consciousness when beginning a new project. Focusing on a specific individual not only provides direction, but creates unity throughout your work. On your next project, remember to ask: who you are creating for?

  • Madeliene Rose

    I love that he said this because sometimes we do fall into the trap of trying to make everyone love our work which stops us from being unique. Everyone should read at least one Paris Review interview a week! They’re so good!

  • Andrea Goulet Ford

    SOOOOOO true. Most of my work is getting business owners to think of that one ideal customer that represents their audience. You can’t write to the room, you have to write to a single person. Love that I have this resource to add to my toolkit to help back me up. 🙂

  • Ursula Maxwell-Lewis

    Still good advice

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