Using Personas During Design and Documentation came to my attention today. (Authors: Niranjan Jahagirdar and Arun Joseph Martin.)
I realised I often use a persona informally (or even subliminally) in my own writing of many sorts. This technique is helpful way beyond technical documentation or web content development.
It's very helpful when writing a play to mentally cast a specific actor in the role. I have found that if I can picture Ginette Macdonald delivering the words I'm writing, they will also work for Elisabeth Macrae or Gwyneth Paltrow or whoever. This is weird but true.
Similarly when writing a training course, I sometimes picture a specific person. Then I know she is very busy, very smart, can't see what she has to learn but must do so because her manager tells her to. So I write for her.
Strangely, this means I seem to get the tone pretty right for clerks, professors, scientists, CEOs, HR staff, lawyers, journalists and receptionists alike.
It doesn't make sense. It's a mystery, but the persona thing just works.
On the other hand, when I'm writing a poem, I don't give a stuff who reads it. I write regardless of audience. I write poetry because I write poetry. For myself. For no reason except fun and personal satisfaction. And that is simply delicious.