Yesterday it was my turn to read at the Ajijic writers meeting, and I chose a piece about working from home using Web and social media tools. The piece was 1,700 words or 4 pages and takes a while to read. There's a lot of practical information in it, and not many compelling stories.
During the reading, I furtively looked up to gauge audience interest. At one point, I got a few chuckles and eyes were open and on me, so at least I knew no one was falling asleep.
Other than that, I had no idea if I was boring or not, since a lot of it was information about blogging, Twitter, teleseminars, shopping carts and the stuff I do everyday to make a living online. Of course, once the reading was over, there was feedback.
It turns out, the stuff I take for granted as being standard working-from-home tools are a mystery to the average writer in my community. Many of these folks are still computer-shy and working offline. Instead of it being boring in the sense of "old news," it passed into the realm of overwhelmingly "new school."
Which brings up my point: you are not the best judge of your material. Your audience is. But unless you ask for feedback, unless you're regularly asking for comments, you can't know if you hit the mark or pitch a slow ball so short it falls to the ground before the hitter has a chance to strike.
You can't find out what's good, what's boring, or what's brilliant until you get comments. And you need to ask for them.
Gauging your audience's interest is easier when you're speaking to people. It's especially hard when you're writing. Blogging offers an opportunity for readers to interact, but they won't unless you make it inviting to them to do so.
Here's a great article giving Eight Tips to Know If You're Being Boring, by Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project.
Perhaps many of the same tips for avoiding boring your audience in person can be applied to writing? What do you think?