Monday, May 2, 2011

3 Uncommon Tips for Writing with Impact

 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:


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.


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. 


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!


  1. I'm so glad I clicked into read these excellent tips. I have frequently questioned myself and found the answers were very useful to crafting my posts. I will galdly share this link with others. Best wishes with your blogging. :)

  2. not bad! i'm one of your peeps! thanks!

  3. First class,TBT. We think exactly the same.

  4. Great tips, TBT, and written in your usual lively manner. With me, it's all instinct. I keep pushing the words around until it feels right.

  5. I especially like the second tip. Very nice pointers. I write best on a whim : )

  6. @tt Thanks tt. I really appreciate your support!

    BTW, I'd love to know the kind of questions you prompt your writing with!

  7. @ Robert Crane Hey Robert, I paid a lightning visit to your blog and am looking forward to return for a proper read. It feels live-wired :)

  8. @Ana. Hey Ana, don't threaten me with redundancy :). In the meantime, we'll write with aplomb lol

  9. @np Thanks np! I'd love to know what your *pushing* involves - how you search for and settle on the right words :)

  10. @sb Writing on a whim can sometimes produce wonderful results, especially when you can coax (or allow) the whim to stay long enough for you to adjust to the *zone* :)

  11. TB-let me add that I'm not by any means a compulsive writer. I've gone years without writing a word. Truth be told, I don't even believe in writing; I believe in what writing can't say, what lies beyond words. Action, feeling, experience, being, life.

  12. @np I think I have a sense of what you mean by 'what lies beyond words'...if anything, I often feel limited (and sometimes helpless and frustrated) by the words I have at my disposal.

    Of course, this is partly due to my limited vocabulary and the lack of knowledge of more than one or two languages.

    But, there's also the fact that most of our experiences are 'beyond words'. Most of life happens way 'beyond words'.

    And like the finger pointing at the moon, not to be mistaken for it, our words, if well chosen and used well, can point at or hint at what we sense more fully.

    But, having been urged to *speak* from as early as possible (and weren't our parents proud and their friends impressed) when we did!

    Often I find it so much more fulfilling to be silent because it gives us the chance to let the richness and depth of life finally penetrate the cracks which our perpetual torrent of words has (thankfully) not succeeded in sealing off!

  13. Oh dear, this is what happens when I write in the middle of other work - I end up with incomplete sentences and ideas!

    This is what I meant to say:

    But, having been urged to *speak* from as early as possible (and weren't our parents proud and their friends impressed when we did!), we've come to rely on words as our primary (and often the only) means of expressing ourselves.

    In fact, we even believe we've not communicated or felt or experienced something if we don't do so with words. How far off the mark are we in that respect!

    Which is why I suppose, we are so moved when poets and other artists convey, albeit with words, some of the stuff that lies 'beyond words'.

    They are the ones who can paint the unseen pictures, tell the unheard stories and reflect the unnoticed feelings.

    And people like you, np, who use aphorisms, which to me are textual metaphors, do something similar. You help us catch glimpses of what we know and feel on the deepest level.

  14. Very Interesting post. I am glad I happened on your BC thread. I really like the "START AND FINISH OFF YOUR WRITING WITH IMPACT" I know that is what keeps me reading a post. How it is started has to grab my attention.. and to get me to return is to leave me wondering.. or inspired! Thank-you!

  15. @ K Fields Thanks for your feedback! Yeah, same here re start and finish. Most people remember about the impactful starts but often forget the impactful ending. It kinda lets the post down when that happens :)


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