Why do you write? Do you write for yourself or because you want to be read. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. For example, in this post I’m writing for you; to help you improve your writing. However, blogging also allows me space to practise writing. The key to becoming a better writer is to write; write regularly, write frequently and create a writing habit. Of course, the most important partner in this process is the reader. We can practise all we like but if we’re writing to be read, we need to engage our reader.
It helps to remember that most readers like stories more than bland facts or authoritative instructions. They like to immerse themselves in the words and feel connected. In other words, your words need to matter enough to inspire your reader. Your reader needs to want to keep reading.
Imagine meeting George at a party. George likes to talk about himself. He rambles on and on about where he’s been, what he does and how well he does it. Luckily tonight, he is feeling generous.
George asks “what you do?”
You mention you’re thinking of starting a new venture.
George’s ears prick up. He sits forward in his chair, rubs his hands gleefully and says, “I know all about that. You know what you need to do, you need to …”
Then, for the next hour, George keeps telling you. He tells you and tells you and tells you. George tells you all the reasons you need to listen to him because he knows best.
How would you feel, has George inspired you?
Maybe he has, especially if you can use his story to improve your writing. Think about it. Do you listen to your audience? Do you allow them time to think, speak and share their ideas. Can this even be achieved?
The simple answer is yes; ask questions. Ask questions within your writing and leave your reader the mental space to discover an answer. You may like to look at something you’ve written recently. Read the questions below and ask yourself, “have I engaged my reader?’
1. Does your writing have a clear purpose that is obvious to, and resonates with, your reader?
2. Will the reader understand how reading benefits them?
3. Are your words written in clear, plain English?
4. Do you offer instructions in an easily recognisable, step by step format?
5. Have you used stories, metaphors or analogies to create a personal connection?
Another useful tip for creating connection is to share some of your own vulnerability. Many readers like to feel they have something to offer. Many like to help. They are happy feeling sympathy or empathy. Why? Because when we feel sympathy or empathy, we don't feel alone. We don't feel inferior. We don’t feel as though we’re the only ones with a problem. We don’t feel like we’re being judged. Instead we believe we have something someone else needs. We have answers. We have something to give.
Of course, many of these feelings swirl deep within the reader’s unconscious mind. In all probability, most readers aren't consciously aware of their emotions. But you are. As the writer, you 'get' your audience and tap into their emotion. As a result, your readers will believe you understand them. You understand their position, you share their perspective and you acknowledge them as an individual. This is when your writing matters.
So, think about your reaction to what you read. What resonated with you? Did anything frustrate you? What could you do better?
Here’s the challenge, take what I have offered and improve it!
First, you may like to think about this. As human beings, we tend to be competitive (even when we don't think we are). We like to prove ourself, we like to be better. We also like rewards. We like to be reassured that what we're doing matters. We like to add value (think about our friend George). We also like to be part of something, we like to belong.
How can your writing, your words, add value and create a sense of belonging?
Challenge yourself now, re-read something you wrote. Compete with yourself; write it better. Then, very importantly, validate what you did well.
If you’d like more tips, editing or coaching, write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org