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The U2 Method of High-Impact Writing

A Guest Post by Oleg Mokhov of Lifebeat

Want to become a high-impact writer? Make your articles stronger and your message hit harder by utilizing the U2 method of high-impact writing. You can use a 3 step method to easily catch the attention of readers from the very first sentence.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s indisputable that Bono and gang wrote some incredible, lasting pop songs. Tunes that become a part of people’s lives.

“One,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Pride in the Name of Love,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “New Year’s Day,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “With or Without You,” “Beautiful Day,” the list goes on…

How does U2 have such high-impact songs? It all stems from Bono’s approach to songwriting: Write the best chorus you can, then make that the verse and write an even better chorus.

So simple, yet so effective.

3 Step Method to High-Impact Writing

What the heck does Bono’s songwriting have to do with us writers? This is Write to Done, not Songwriting to Done.

Answer: You can apply U2’s method of high-impact songwriting to your own writing. Make your articles as immediate and catchy as U2’s songs.

Here’s the 3 step method:

  1. Write your high-impact point, the main message of your article
  2. Make that the first sentence or paragraph
  3. Write an even stronger point for the conclusion

So simple, yet so effective.

Plus, what’s awesome about the U2 method of high-impact writing is that it’s practical, rather than some abstract “push yourself to write better” tip
(what does that even mean?).

3 Reasons This Method Works

Here are 3 reasons why the U2 method will make your articles high-impact:

  1. Capture a reader’s attention right away – our short attention spans need immediate hooking in, or else we quickly lose interest
  2. Best foot forward – when you start off strong, people want to keep reading, just like a good intro riff makes you want to keep listening
  3. More valuable article – you make it easy for the reader to get the value, and the less they have to work the more they’ll read and the more value they’ll get

Nothing Clever, Just Solid Writing

Some songwriters get caught up in trying to be clever, thinking they need to figure out some secret chord progression or song structure to make a better song.

But all it is is simply pushing yourself to make the most high-impact chorus you can, then making it what starts the song and creating an even better chorus.

The same goes for writers. If you want readers, you don’t need to be clever with some fancy structure or rhyming scheme. Just write the best darn point you’re trying to make, then make that start the article and push yourself to write an even better concluding point.

I Utilized the U2 Method for This Article

The first paragraph of this article was originally the conclusion. It stated the message and value of the article.

But I decided to utilize the U2 method and put the high-impact point in the very beginning. Now, this article starts off with (hopefully) an immediate and catchy paragraph that hooked you in to read this far.

Following the 3rd step of the U2 method, the conclusion you’ll read next is an even higher-impact point.

The U2 Method of High-Impact Writing

Transform your next article into a high-impact hit. Utilize the U2 method of high-impact writing to create an immediate article that captivates readers and hooks passer-bys.

You’ll capture a reader’s attention right away, have your best foot forward with your content, and create a more valuable article.

Oh U2, is there anything you wonderful Irishmen can’t teach us?

Oleg Mokhov is the world’s most mobile electronic musician and co-founder of the premium royalty free music store Soundtrackster.

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29 thoughts on “The U2 Method of High-Impact Writing”

  • Russ says:

    I could not agree more. I’ve always felt that the best songs had 2 “choruses”, but never looked at it exactly this way. Very inspiring.

  • I love Bono’s articles in the New York Times. What a great writer. Thanks for the tips.

  • Great suggestions, you make me want to revise my approach to writing AND go listen to some U2. I agree with Megan M – I like reading Bono’s articles in NYT, who knew a rocker could be a good writer?

  • ray says:

    As you read the article, you begin to ask yourself, “Of course. It’s so obvious. Why didn’t I realize that from the git go?” A well organized, U2 method of post writing. Well done.

    Ray

  • Thanks for the great comments everyone. And thank you for the opportunity to write for Write to Done, Mary.

    @Russ: Well put. Each part of a song should be a hook, a chorus. No excuse not to have the riff, verse, bridge not be awesome as well. And the same for writing: the main point should rock, and the concluding point rock even harder.

    @Megan: Me too. Bono’s a very artful and humorous writer. Balances the brain with the jokes.

    @Ami: Glad this article was of use to you. The U2 method certainly helped my writing (and music-making, natch).

    @Ray: It really is. One of those so simple it’s stupid things. But for some reason many of us forget the obvious sometimes. It’s really just, write something amazing and to the point, then make start off with that and write something even better. Can be applied to anything, really (especially films).

  • Eric C says:

    It is a nice tip, and for any essay over 1,000 words, i would totally recommend it. But…

    For blog posts, I recommend one idea, and one idea only. In a short amount of time, that is about all the time you have.

    Good idea in general, I’m glad I learned about it.

  • Eric C says:

    Just wanted to follow up. I didn’t want to be harsh. I added this tip to my writing bag of tricks.

  • I love U2! And learning writing tips from them as well as enjoying their music? Priceless!

  • Omar says:

    I will give this a try. Thanks

  • @Eric C: No worries man, your comment didn’t come off as harsh. I could see the U2 method applied to a really short article too: have that one and only point still be as good as possible. Write the best wording you can for your message and make that the first sentence or paragraph. Conclude with even better writing (even if it’s still part of the same point).

    @Samantha: It’s a win-win scenario :)

    @Omar: Let us know here how it works for you.

  • Rick Barlow says:

    Another tip for effective writing — never use utilize.

  • Ching Ya says:

    To write a song is never easy, lyrics and rhythm must be able to create an impact as soon as it first heard — same as writing. If we manage to capture readers’ attentions, nothing too complicated but ease through the whole passage it’ll be wonderful ! Most importantly, they get to gain something in return aside from a pleasant read. Very challenging but once we manage to do so, it’s a fulfilling task.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • Jennifer says:

    I love U2 and you couldn’t be more right about how they manage to make their lyrics impactful. The same is very true when writing articles, essays, chapters, etc…

  • Perfect and straight to the point. Helpful to keep this in mind. Thanks!

    -Mig

  • Gail Tycer says:

    Great advice. I just wrote a blog post about rewriting that has a similar theme–writers often get caught up in trying to make everything perfect the first time, on obsessing over little details. However, writing is a process, and it’s important to get down the main idea, and then make it better (through editing, etc).

  • Julie says:

    What a great way to look at writing… there are some overlaps between all writing.. lyrics, poetry, non-fiction, fiction, etc. They all have varying techniques, but each one takes some creative inspiration — and Bono is definitely inspiring!!

  • Outstanding! Thank you for this. I am a huge U2 fan and have always found the lyrics extremely beautiful and always packing a punch (“in my dream, I was drowning my sorrows, but my sorrows, they learned to swim”). Nice job transforming this idea into writing in general!

  • Flying LlamaFish says:

    Wise words, brother bear.

  • @Rick: I’ll remember to utilize that tip ;)

    @Ching: A cool way of thinking about writing – after we catch the reader’s attention, we ease them in throughout the rest of the article. Not only do they get an enjoyable read but get the clear value too.

    @Jennifer: Yep. Songwriting tips can be applied to any creative field, and vice versa.

    @Miguel: Glad it was indeed to the point. The U2 method in action :)

    @Gail: Agreed. Perfect is the enemy of great. Rather than endlessly picking at the unessential details, we should focus on the main message and making that as high-impact as possible.

    @Julie: What’s awesome about songwriting (and just writing) tips is that it can be applied to film, painting, games, or any other creative endeavor.

    @Eleanor: Thanks. Glad you dug the U2 spin on a writing tip. Their songs do pack a punch melody and lyrics wise, so we can definitely learn some awesome writing tips from them.

    @Flying Llamafish: Thank you, and what an awesome name you have.

  • This is excellent advice. I love U2. Who doesn’t?

  • Write a strong lede. That’s standard and eternal advice, whether framed in a catchy U2 context or a boring journalism textbook.

    But make your strongest point your conclusion? If by “conclusion” you mean the end of the story, way down there at the bottom of the sea where so many readers don’t bother to dive—that’s called burying the lede. Not a good idea. That’s where you want a strong or pithy kicker that leaves the reader feeling at once satisfied and savoring resonant overtones. Like the last line of an Emily Dickinson poem. A reward for having stayed with you. You wrote a good one in this post.

    If, however, you mean by “conclusion” the paragraph right after the lede—the nut graf—that can be very effective. You hook ‘em and then set the hook. Good writing.

    Also, I find it hard to believe that the opening paragraph of your post was originally the conclusion. You introduced a three-step method in the LAST paragraph of the story? Really?

  • @Robert:

    Thanks for your comment.

    I follow a 2-1-3 order in writing an article, where 3 is the most high-impact point. I wrote the 3, then moved it to the beginning to be a 2 and wrote a new 3.

    I re-worded the paragraph once I moved it to the beginning to better fit as an intro. But I did mention the 3 steps in the end originally.

  • Great advice. I always focus very much on the end. And usually make it the strongest part of my posts, but never thought about taking that and moving it up to the intro, and coming up with an even stronger ending.
    I always seek a good intro, but maybe think of it initially as ending will help strengthen its impact. Yet it makes great sense. Let’s see how it works on paper ….

  • Omnia says:

    Thank you so much , I really enjoyed reading through

  • amibelle says:

    This is perfect advice. Thanks. I always feel that U2’s song are deeper than most. I love how you’ve transfered it to writing.

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