There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein Walter Wellesley 'Red' Smith
You may have got the impression by now that I’m a compulsive writer. I simply have to write. But, better yet, I want to write. In fact, there is hardly a day that goes by when I don’t write something, whether I publish it or not.
Perhaps you’re that kind of person too. So, why do people like us need help with writing?
For me, the answer is that when I decide to write something that I wish to publish, like my blog posts for instance, I want to make sure they have the greatest impact on my readers.
We all have thoughts and experiences worth sharing. Someone reading them may be inspired by our insight or be comforted and reassured by the fact that they are not the only ones having a particular kind of experience or *problem*.
Their hearts may also be lightened by the humor – gentle or loud – that we deliver. And they may be encouraged by the enthusiasm and encouragement we underscore our writing with.
I’ve written hundreds of blog posts as well as a significant number of ebooks, essays, poems, research articles, copywriting scripts, emails and newsletters. You probably have too.
I’m not always entirely satisfied with my writing. Sometimes, the process feels more strained and effortful. Other times, it feels as if the sentences and ideas just float or leap from (or through) my mind onto the screen in front of me :).
Sometimes, I consciously follow a ‘Check List’ of what to write and how to write. At other times, I seem to draw on a subconscious set of Guidelines.
I’ve been observing and studying some of these differences in my writing to see what I can glean from them. The following are some of the things that I’ve learned:
DON'T WRITE OR EDIT WHEN YOU'RE NOT FEELING STRONG AND PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE WRITING
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write when you’re feeling *blah* like good ol’ Charlie Brown often seems to feel.
But notice how much more enlivened and interesting the scene gets when Crab Meister Lucy comes along or when we see Linus in cosmic philosophical flight or Schroeder unflinchingly absorbed in Chopin much to the chagrin of Lucy!
That’s how you want readers to feel when they read what you have to write. And you’re more likely to write for that effect when you’re feeling a strong and full-bodied sense of Passion, Play and Purpose!
By all means write regardless of how you’re feeling but when it comes to publishing, re-write your ideas using the full energy of Passion, Play and Purpose! Don't ever be halfhearted with your writing.
START AND FINISH OFF YOUR WRITING WITH IMPACT
The first and last words that you write are the first and last words your readers will read.
The technical jargon for them is *Primacy* and *Recency* because they are the first and last (most recent) words or ideas your readers encounter in your writing.
They are also the ones that are most easily remembered. So make them impactful.
One great way that works for me is to ask myself:
How do I want my readers to feel when they read this?
How do I want to feel when I read this?
There are many ways in which you can create impact at the start. Here are a few:
By evoking curiosity and/or empathy
Eg You’ve probably done something like this and been thoroughly embarrassed by it as I have.
By being controversial
Eg Psychologists have a tendency to confuse and try to impress with unnecessary jargon.
By expressing indignation
Eg It’s easy for some people to say that money doesn’t buy happiness.
By asking a question
Eg Have you ever thought about changing your name?
By asking a rhetorical question
Eg Do you really need to be reminded that you’re the only one who controls your happiness?
By using self-disclosure
Eg I fell in love last night and am regretting it today.
By using contrast
Eg Just because you’ve learned to fish, it doesn’t mean you should forgo the option of buying fish!
Now, I hope you realize that these impactful starters need to be supported by engaging your readers with relevant content including content that explains, where necessary, your opening statement.
I’ve found that keeping your writing SIMPLE, SINCERE AND SUBSTANTIVE is important. I’ve also found that a sprinkling of humor or levity helps.
WHEN YOU FEEL UNINSPIRED OR SIMPLY OUT OF IDEAS, START ASKING YOURSELF QUESTIONS
Here are some of my favorite questions:
What is something that I would simply love to be told right now?
What is something that I could be told that would give me hope/strength/faith/courage/freedom/peace/confidence/laughter etc?
What is the opposite of a particular idea or point that I’ve raised?
What would XYZ (someone you truly admire or conversely, disagree with) have to say about this?
What are 3 things I can learn from my favorite writer/entrepreneur/spiritual teacher/chef/artist (choose the one that is relevant to your subject)
What are some of the interesting things that I’ve observed or heard in recent days and how do they appear when I pass them through the filter of my writing topic?
As you can see, these are just a smattering of ideas and techniques for impactful writing. I’m offering them as additional tips to what I assume is your already substantial body of writing techniques and guidelines.
Do let me know if you find any of this useful. And do share some of your own tips and tricks :)
In the meantime, keep writing like your happiness depended on it!