16 Jan 1 thing writers shouldn’t forget.
You’ve got a lot of writing to do, so I’ll keep this short.
You don’t get to control what people read, you get to control what you write. And those things are very different.
You might feel like you’ve explained a blog post or book chapter perfectly. You might go to bed feeling good about the day’s work. In the morning you awaken and someone completely misread what you thought you had written.
Why does this happen?
Often because people don’t read what you write with their eyes, they read what you write with their filter. They bring to your words every good experience, every bad experience, every prejudice, every fear and every hope they’ve ever had. Suddenly your words don’t mean what you thought your words meant.
Case in point, I once tweeted something about “guys and girls.” A few women told me that “girl” was a horrible word to use. They told me “lady” was bad as well. That’s OK though, because they get their own opinion and own filter. At the Acuff house, “girl” is a word that does not carry insult. We like things like the song “Brown Eyed Girl,” and Jenny is AOK with me tweeting something like, “I’m so glad I got to marry this girl!”
And in this particular case, the phrase is “guys and girls,” not “Guys and Women.” But again, all of that doesn’t matter a whole lot because the reader gets to determine their own filter. Did I mean to insult people when I used that expression? Of course not. Did some people read it that way? Of course.
I do the same thing sometimes too. About six weeks ago, someone on Twitter asked me, “What exactly is your career?” At the time I was going through a really difficult career transition and I completely misread her very innocent question. (I think it was the word “exactly” that made me frustrated.) I could not have taken it more the wrong way. I ended up being really sarcastic and quite frankly, a jerk. I no longer have the direct message or I would have apologized. I messed that interaction up because I read it with my filter.
As you write, expect people to have filters too.
Because you don’t get to control what people read, you get to control what you write.