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Additional Notes on Awareness of Audience

This is a follow-up to this post based on emails I received.

1) Writing makes me self-conscious. Self-consciousness is the worst form of audience awareness. It is less rational than a critical eye - more like a dark cluster of emotions: sadness, fear and loneliness. When I write, I feel as though I am playing with an extremely thin thread, unintentionally tying tight little knots with my large clumsy fingers.

1a) "I tie knots" :: "Try not tying knots" :: "Tying not-knots?" :: Yes, try tying not-knots"

2) To try and trick the self-consciousness away I framed this blog as “Notes and Advice to Someone Just Like Me.” I assumed that someone like me would be a more forgiving audience.

3) I was wrong. Ha!

4) I appreciate the irony of writing a series of posts on collaboration in the most non-collaborative way. I am open to suggestions. Ha!

5) When I used the word “trance” I didn’t mean an actual trance and I was not trying to romanticize the creative process. I meant it in the spirit of “he walked through the room as if in a trance.” - a lack of awareness of the outside world (in this case, the audience.)

6) I believe that the process I described in “audience awareness” is not limited to large projects; it can happen when I write emails, when I put on clothes, or when I have a conversation. I go through the process whenever I do or make something with the intention of being perceived by something external. There are exceptions. In some conversations (the good ones) you can feel joined with the other person to the extent that they do not seem to be an external audience. I would call this a trance, too (or participation). And it can be jarring when you separate.

7) Someone pointed out to me that “audience awareness” has quite a bit to do with feedback. How you conceive of an audience is often greatly affected by the sorts of feedback you receive. Two issues come to mind that might be worth exploring further. One I would call “On Being Thin Skinned”, which would deal with the difficulty of being emotionally open to feedback in a world where genuine assholes roam. And the other would be “On the Squeaky Wheel” which would deal with the fact that in most cases only a small portion of the audience will give feedback.

8. Knot


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Comments (6)

8) Knots in your stomach can keep you from finishing perfectly good sentences. :)


Thanks for the detailing of trance. Quite a useful mix of being uninhibited yet self and audience aware. That part of the process as it pertains to writing is fascinating to me. If I could figure out how to induce it in kids it would be the biggest win ever.

No idea how to allay self consciousness in adults but with kids it's a snap. I just tell them how I experience the writing and answer any questions they may have. If you were one of my kids, I would tell you that these posts are like reading the answers to questions I wish I had asked Ze Frank. Informative, thought provoking and satisfying.

Stealing and idea from a few posts back, this is not for a grade and if something is won it will be by accident. So it is for us all really. But brass tacks, this is fun and good to read and I hope you continue.

Assholes do roam and some of them deserve my size ten front and center but I like my shoes untinkied. Also, sometimes I'd be eating shoe leather.


You might want to remember that some of us may be a little quieter than others.

Keep going, honey, you're doing just fine, and it's very interesting to see you walk though these steps. You've brought up a lot of ideas I would never have thought of, and I've taken a few away to digest quietly on my own. I don't think I'm the only one who treats that page, uh, thusly.


To make the world more digestible, I like to assume that these roaming assholes you mention are merely bullying eleven-year-olds who are just learning to use a computer. I imagine them struggling to find the keys to type "Yer gay!" in the Youtube comments and arduously constructing inane diatribes so they can feel like they're all grown up.

As I remember that they still may wet their beds, my anger subsides, and I gather inner peace to direct a zen-like wish to them: "May you find your path safely."

I really appreciate your openness as you work through your ideas, especially on audience awareness. I find it so hard to get inside the heads of my audience - in any context - that I tend to just ignore the issue entirely. Life is a lot easier for me if I pretend I don't care much about my audience, but I'm realizing that I accomplish a lot less that way.


i love that number eight has different punctuation, intentional or not

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