From Allen Ginsberg’s, Fourteen Steps for Revising Poetry:
3. Review it through several people’s eyes.
As creative beings, we have a tendency to make or produce for a single person, that ideal audience out there in the ether: be it a best friend, a departed parent, or an imaginary mentor, one of those towering figures we revere from afar. Although it can certainly be helpful to have a particular audience in mind— especially if you’re publishing a daily blog or magazine with a niche readership, or building a new marketing campaign for a finicky client— never forget, that art should ultimately be transcendent.
Bla, bla, bla. I know, big intimidating multisyllabic words and sky-high ambitions.
But seriously, there is a reason why Japanese teenagers in the throng of ennui clamour to read Beat Generation novels from the 1950s, and Princeton and Yale professors complete their doctorate research on Ginsberg’s Howl and Amerika. The work lasts because it speaks in an inclusive voice, to all audiences, everywhere, and transcended its own era to become an ethos.
Pick one of your unfinished projects or an excerpt from a longer work-in-progress. Write a list of 3 people who you think would be the perfect audience for this work. Next, add a list of 3 people, who you think would hate this work. Now, share your unfinished work. Ask each person on your list to name one thing they love, one thing they hate and one way they would change your work, if it were their own.