by Cheri Fields

Writing is a mammoth process. Today let’s look at one of the first steps that helps you “eat the elephant.”

Books are read one reader at a time.

You experience this every day. Even a shared pop phenomenon, if consumed at home, is a private event. Particularly with today’s personal devices, we watch, listen, and play alone more than we share such content with a crowd.

This gives us as writers a power to touch people, individual to individual. Think of it. It’s just me, Cheri, typing on a laptop keyboard, and you–whenever you run across this article, on whatever device you use. Even if thousands of others find this article over the years, it’s still just you and me, right now, that matters.

So, how can I take advantage of this reality?

There is a technique well known in marketing circles that can help you picture your one reader when all you see is a computer screen in front of you: build an avatar or ideal reader in your mind.

I’ve heard that radio stations have long targeted a single person as their ideal demographic and tailor everything about their programming and advertising to her. And anyone worth your time and money will tell you if you aim to reach “everyone,” you end up impacting no one, because it’s impossible to connect deeply with anything designed to be that generic.

Write for someone in your life

Have you heard of Khan Academy video learning? It’s grown far beyond this, but it started out with one man helping his far away cousin understand math. He knew exactly who his audience was, what she needed, and could produce something meant just for her every time he sat down to create something. It’s not surprising, then, that his material connected with many more people than just one girl.

Because, the reality is, even if you don’t match the specifics of that ideal reader, you still feel the personal connection and appreciate the warmth it unconsciously brings to the content.

Use Yourself

Ever since I first created my first social media account, I’ve paid attention to the types of content that make me happy, annoyed, bored, or amazed. I try to replicate the good I personally want and avoid the negative I don’t. For the most part, I target moms in situations much like mine—along with nerds of all stripes. When I write for moms, I either write for myself today or for the mom I was when I was just starting out.

Think about this: What single individual do you want to impact with your words? What do they need that you can give them? How can you best meet them where they are right now?

Cheri Fields is a homeschooling science nerd who loves the power of words to shape lives. She got into editing to have more high quality books to read both to her seven children and for herself than she could write alone. The bigger the idea, the more exciting things get. You can find her at