Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Narrowing Your Focus... Yay or Nay

Most of us can agree that writers everywhere write... must write, live to write.  And if you are like me, you have thousands of ideas floating around in your head, ideas that need to get on the page. But trying to balance those ideas with what you know and what your target audience needs to read can be a real challenge.

The question for even the most experienced writer is how to decide on a focus for the writing and marketing to keep inspired, to  keep loving what you do and to be productive? Do writers actually need to narrow their focus as is recommended by books and instructors everywhere or can a writer  successfully write about absolutely everything swirling around in their head and reach a marketable audience?

First, decide what success means to you. Success may be keeping some of those tidbits of ideas in a journal while working on other projects. Success may be being on the New York Best seller list. Success may be in the form of self-publishing and for others success may be writing only for the catharsis of the process and not for public view. Ask yourself what success means for you as the writer to help to determine the focus and purpose of your work?

Next, list the ideas that you love, the topics that you know something about, and the subjects that your reader or audience longs for. This is where you start on any new project or new idea and where you decide what your focus should be. Explore these ideas and how many ways you can use this list to develop your product, story, or article idea. Within the focus of a topic there may be numerous ways to expand that focus for more than one product.

Narrowing your focus now becomes important for each project. Narrowing the focus helps you to hone in on the subject and the audience allowing you to meet the needs of your reader but it also assists you with targeting your audience specifically for this project in regards to marketing to them.

Narrowing your focus is important for stories, articles and specific writing projects so that your points can be clear and the topic remains specific. Facts and research can be used again in other products with the same topic so no information is wasted.  But the question still lingers for the writer... Does a writer need to narrow the focus in general when working on a lucrative writing career? Can an author be successful writing in more than one specific area? Can a writer who has done medical writing branch out to mystery or suspense? Can a financial guru write books for children? Or must you stay within your narrow focus of expertise to be successful?

I have found that there are many authors very successful at writing in many genres and avenues. I think the key to success is to hone your skills, narrow the focus of each project, and know how to market to the target audience with each written work. Being an expert in a field is very lucrative and increases the chances of success. For me narrowing a focus can apply to each individual piece of work but doesn't have to limit your ability to succeed with those other ideas swirling in your head. Your writing focus narrows with each project as does your marketing and audience but the types of writing you do can be wide open. What is your experience and opinion about narrowing your focus?

Terri Forehand writes from her home in Nashville Indiana. She writes health related material, stories for children and is currently writing and designing small quilt patterns based on fictional characters. She is the author of The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane and The Cancer Prayer book for adults newly diagnosed. ,


Shirley Corder said...

Terri, my current work in progress is a book based on women of the Bible. My market is women facing a specific group of problems, but I constantly have to force myself back on track and cut extraneous information. (And yes, I keep it in another file.)There is so much I could include but it's not relevant. Thanks for the reminder.

Karen Cioffi said...

Terri, I think it's important to have focus in your writing and marketing. I used to write for children, business, marketing, and health. It's hard to maintain all that. I narrowed it down (a bit) and gave up the health writing, for the time being anyway.

If you spread yourself too thin, something has to give.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Clever analysis, Terri. You do have a wealth of interests and obviously manage to follow through on your projects. Like Karen, I've had to limit what I'm doing. I decided on a related series of books--we'll see if that was a good idea or not, later..

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