Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How To Put Reader Projection to Work For You

Most bloggers eventually figure out that their readers are capable of near-delusional acts of projection. Readers see whatever they want to see in your writing, and they'll project their own thoughts and opinions onto your words.

This happens for wide range of reasons, most of which aren't your fault. Some readers overreact if a word or phrase triggers an emotion in them, and they'll pound out a reactionary or abusive comment before thinking better of it. Some readers are narcissistic, and thus they think everything they read should exactly apply to them. Finally, some readers genuinely suck at reading comprehension, conveniently enabling them to project whatever they want onto what they read--even when it's not there.

Look, if you've enabled comments on your blog, if you've chosen to let your readers respond directly to what you write, there's little you can do when they engage in projection. You have to accept that once you put your writing out there, it's not really yours anymore. It's open to interpretation--from anyone.

However, there are ways you can put reader projection to work on your behalf.

How about writing something deliberately vague? What if you write a relatively simple story that can be interpreted broadly or flexibly? Try this in a few of your posts and let your readers run with it.

Think about the most vivid biblical quotes, or the most popular parables of Jesus. Aren't those quotes open to a wide number of interpretations? And therefore, don't they resonate with widest number of people?

Pass the conversation over to your readers and let them carry it for a while. Try staying vague and let them fill in the missing parts. Enable and reward your readers' acts of projection. You might be surprised by what your readers see.