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Why We Write

Decode The Writing Process And Learn How To Connect With Your Readers

7 min read
Why We Write
Photo by Yannick Pulver / Unsplash

Have you ever hit publish and found yourself “listening to crickets”?

No reaction, no engagement, and no views.

No one is reading your work.

Congrats! Welcome to the writer’s pit of despair.

It IS frustrating. It IS part of writing online, yes.

But is it out of our control?

Far from it!

This article will guide you through how we, aspiring writers and prolific online creators, can learn and re-learn how to write well.

But first, let’s get one thing out of the way:

Why are we doing this?

Why are we spending hours upon hours typing, editing, building up sections, and crafting headlines while we know there is a considerable risk that no one will ever read our work?

If you are as obsessed with the demanding writing process as I am, you have found the right place. This is not for the conformists who give up on hard things just because they are not as comfy as laying on the couch and watching YouTube clips.

And for all you writers out there who are looking for “flow-states”:

Forget it!

Dopamine-triggering flow-states have nothing to do with creating value for our readers.

We seek the code to connect to our readers to be valuable as writers.

Study Other Writers

I started investing time to understand what successful writers, bloggers, and authors do right. They have connected to their readers and built thriving businesses through their writings.

By studying other writers that are “ahead” of me, I get the opportunity to re-use already proven techniques so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

There are many writers to learn from; everyone has a unique voice and way of connecting. We can pick our raisins from the cake and create our writing voice.

These are the top 3 writers that I seem to get back to and learn from frequently, especially when it comes to writing and copy-writing:

I read from various authors, but when it comes to online writers, Ryan, David, and Dickie serve my current goal well. To take control of my writing process and to understand how we, as aspiring writers, can write with authenticity and specificity. They are also really good at marketing and sales, which is a considerable portion of being a successful writer.

To become valuable as writers.

If you’ve come this far, you are probably curious and eager to learn more about how to become a more authentic writer.

Cool, let's dive in a bit further!

We’ll start by getting rid of some old mental baggage. So please delete these four assumptions from your mind and renew your writing voice:

1. You don’t write for “anyone.”

We write for a specific SOMEONE.

We solve a specific problem; we trigger a particular feeling or emotion.

Do you see the red thread?

We aim for specificity. We don’t try to please everyone and their mother.

2. You don’t create new knowledge

Wait what?

You might give a new perspective, trigger an idea or even curate valuable information that hasn’t been exposed yet to that reader.

But rarely, we don’t create new knowledge.

Unless you are worthy of the Nobel Prize.

3. Don’t try to explain.

Argue with intensity and use logic to guide your reader through your arguments.

You might instruct or guide your reader through, i.e., tutorials, instructions, and so on, but we should refrain from trying to explain stuff through writing.

Having to explain stuff is an uninteresting stance to have. And no reader is willing to spend time reading a long explanation.

People read stories.

Don’t be the “explainer.” Become a storyteller.

4. “I write; therefore, you should read.”

No, no one cares about your writings except you.

People read, digest and absorb others' writings because they either trigger a feeling, are guided through a problem they can relate to, or get a fresh new perspective.

Get rid of that entitlement and start being valuable.

Solve a problem.

Be of service to others.

3. Don't try to explain.

Argue with intensity and use logic to guide your reader through your arguments.

You might instruct or guide your reader through i.e tutorials, instructions and so on but we should avoid trying to explain stuff through writing.

Having to explain stuff is a boring stance to have. And no reader is willing to spend time on reading a long explanation.

People read stories.

Don't be the explainer. Become a storyteller instead.

4. "I write, therefore you should read"

No, no one cares about your writings, except you.

People read, digest and absorb others writings because they either trigger a feeling, they are guided through a problem they can relate to or they get a fresh new perspective on something.

Get rid of that entitlement and start being valuable.

Solve a problem.

Be of service to others.

This guy seem to get it. 

Get Out From The Academic Trap

Remember the writing experience back in school?

The more I practiced writing in school, the more I hated it.

We could follow a super—organized structure for structuring our sentences and paragraphs. Carefully crafted to explain something, usually around our teacher's chosen topic.

How was the result, and who read it?

Yeah, exactly! No one.

And here comes the hard truth: You know why the teacher read it?

Because they were paid to do it.

No one cared about your creative abilities back then. The ones who read your work were paid to do it.

If you were lucky, you got encouraged for your creativity.

I dreamed about becoming an author when I was a kid—spending time hand-writing fiction stories inspired by fantasy novels like Lord Of The Rings and The Belgarad Series.

That was 30 years ago.

Fast forward to today, the passion is revived and rediscovered.

Thanks to the Internet revolution and the digital era enabling us to write online.

But it is a hard way back. I am trying to catch up on 20+ years of lost practice and re-learn a creative process numbed by a broken school system.

When it comes to the creative craft of writing, I have realized we need to trust a very time-consuming process, and if we want to make an impact, we need to re-learn how we once were taught to write.

Let’s start unfolding a few good practices to apply to our writing:

  • We want to aim for specificity and clarity.
  • We want to create value and be of service.

That is achieved by knowing more about your readers and “the code” in that community. Learning how they speak will improve your chances of connecting with them.

Aim For Specificity & Clarity

No one likes to waste time reading a fluffy article with open ends and no meaning. Nothing is worse than reading a piece of work and feeling more confused at the end than when you started.

We want to get enlightened, challenged, .or at least feel something when we read. Whether you learn something new, you want to end the book, article, or blog post with a new fresh perspective or insight.

People's attention spans could be more extensive.  We should be quick in pointing out why a reader should absorb the insights from the work.

Whether it is instructional, informational, insightful, or purely analytical, one technique to improve your specificity is through Pinpoint writing, like Dickie Bush outlines:

Make It Valuable

Why should that specific someone read your piece of work?

What do you bring to the table?

Our main goal as writers is to be valuable. To create valuable work.

I got it all wrong from the start: Believing that the only way to be valuable is to do something unique, to create something new and groundbreaking. That is not the case.

Value can be that you have enlightened one person with a fresh perspective. And that perspective doesn’t even have to be yours. Being a facilitator of ideas is good enough. Think about it; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be valuable.

Remember, people don’t read your work just because it is there. People give their attention because you offer a solution, a new perspective, or a unique insight into the existing body of knowledge.

The written word has continued to be a sharp weapon to send signals through the body of knowledge, even in these modern days of AI-generated content.

People crave creative solutions to their human problems.

That’s why it is vital to start to know your reader. And it is never too early to begin knowing her.

If you are determined enough, yesterday was a good day to start.

Study And Learn Your Readers

To create actual value for your readers, you need to know them.

Identify which community your readers hang out in. Dive deep into it, hang out, and learn. Heck, why not become a part of it?

Learn how they communicate.

The more you learn about where your readers hang out and how they act and talk, the better you can connect and communicate directly with them. Without that connection, you cannot provide any value.

As soon as you have your reader's attention and are comfortable with your message, knowing that you have a specific value to offer, you better leave the information out.

What do we do when we try to convince someone with an offer?

We use logic and reasoning to argue. We don’t try to explain.

Imagine you communicate with an expert in any field; they usually like to hear that they are intelligent or innovative:

“Wow, you are so smart, you have done all this, and you are an excellent (Doctor, Engineer, Professor, etc.), but there is this little thing here that you are wrong about….”

Then you start to argue; this is when it gets interesting to follow, even for a well-educated expert. They want to know what they are missing.

Know the code

Finally, you need to know the code to communicate effectively with your community.

Meaning understands the keywords that signal value in the community.

Take business jargon as an example:

  • Actionable Items
  • ASAP
  • Baked in
  • Bandwidth
  • Bleeding Edge

Pick a few of the above keywords in any email conversation with a C-suite executive, and you have their attention.

Now that you have cracked the code to communicate with your reader, you have a valuable message to convey and get them hooked. This is where the actual craft of effective communication comes into play.

You now have the power and responsibility to guide your readers and convince them that this is worth reading. You have finally enlightened your audience and offered a solution. You better make it worth reading after all this work.

You have finally become valuable.

Go ahead and try it out!

Keep iterating and learn to grow as a valuable writer!

Do you want to learn more and dive deeper into the craft of writing?

This post was inspired by the lecture linked below," by  Larry McEnerney, Director of the University of Chicago’s Writing Program.

The Craft Of Writing:

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