e3941297e17226345b367b4f61e62e3e98e44947f806b5be70

    How to Double Your Readers with This Significant Strategy

    In the endless sea of textbooks, essays and lectures, there are obviously more than enough pages about how to write better.

    Be concrete.

    Focus on the core message.

    Evoke emotion.

    Entertain, surprise, tell a story, omit needless words.

    Simplify, simplify, simplify.

    Despite all this useful advice, many aspiring writers fail to heed the most important rule that is guaranteed to double your readers:

    Trust your material.

    There seems to be a trend where uninteresting ideas try to covertly pass as interesting. A lot of this writing ends up having a cheesy, gimmicky feel.

    It’s like raving about the amazing quality of high-end office supplies. While they have the best intentions, it just sounds cheap.

    I’ll be honest, trusting your material is easier said than done. How do you know when your material is amazing, merely mediocre, or, worse, absolute drivel?

    The best way, I think, to test the profundity of your material is through enthusiasm.

    Are you truly excited about your work? 

    Or do you spend hours trying to find angles and clever ways to deliver your thoughts?

    Are you truly excited about your work, or do you spend hours trying to find angles and clever ways to deliver your thoughts?

    If you find yourself trying to force excitement in your writing, chances are there’s a problem with the material itself.

    To better illustrate, here is a personal example:

    Topic
    : Happiness, liberation, and feeling comfortable within yourself.

    I wanted to write an article about increasing your happiness. I could have given 10 suggestions for greater happiness: spending more time outdoors, doing what you love, spending time with yourself, etc.

    The only problem with this approach — if you haven’t noticed — it’s not very original.

    Many people elsewhere have exhausted the number of things you can do to increase your happiness. I realized that in order for me to stand apart, I needed to find a more interesting approach; something more creative and unexpected (something that hasn’t already been written over 40,000 times).

    Now, I could have tried all sorts of gimmicks and tricks to make my article seem more interesting than it was. I could call it “10 ways to be happier than you’ve ever imagined” or “Suggestions for making the most of every moment.”

    You can hype up the reader with a lot of chest-pounding, motivational hype. You can pull out every inspirational idea in the book.

    In the end, your article will likely be forgotten a few minutes after the reader is finished (if not before he or she even started).

     

    How to double your readers

    So instead of trying to force excitement on dull material, I took a different approach: the idea of living without a template.

    What’s one of the best (if not the best) ways to achieve greater happiness? Being yourself.

    I took the idea of being yourself as one of the primary determinates of happiness, and mulled over in my mind the possible ways I could approach it. I could have talked about having greater self-esteem. Played out. Self-forgiveness? Tired. Being nice to yourself? Boring.

    So I waited. I thought of a lot of ideas. I brainstormed. And I waited again.

    Then I thought, why not approach the idea of having greater happiness as breaking free from the shoulds of society. Doing what you want to do, rather than trying to live up the expectations of everyone else.

    Living without a template.

    When I came up with the idea of living without a template, the creative and fresh approaches of writing flowed easily and naturally. I came up with the idea of instead of living with a template, you could freestyle life.

    I also brought to light the fact that living without a template might cause upheaval from others who are living inhibited. With that came the idea of the “anti-role collateral.” The price you pay for living on your terms, the strange looks you might get, the rejection from society and disapproval you will inevitably face.

    But all the while keeping in mind, your personal liberation and happiness are worth more than anyone else’s fear-driven approval.

    Right away, I realized that the idea of living without a template was creative and exciting.

    I didn’t need to force interest on it, because it was internally interesting.

    As soon as I realized it was an idea worth pursuing, worth writing about, then came the hard part of simplifying, getting to the core, evoking emotion and entertaining. But this was naturally easier when I trusted my material. Much easier than trying to find an interesting approach to 10 suggestions to live more happily.

    The Impact of Trusting Your Material

    Trusting your material isn’t easy. It takes patience. A lot of it. You’ll likely go through ten, twenty or fifty ideas before you find one worth writing about. It take patience to wait for those ideas and at times it can be frustrating as hell.

    But I guarantee that if you were to write about those 20 mediocre ideas, forcing interesting on them, you’d have less than half the interest as one completely compelling idea.

    Trusting your material is definitely a skill that takes time to develop, but once you do, you’ll find it extremely liberating.

    My college English teacher asked at the beginning of our first day of class, “Why does anyone write?” Myself and all of my classmates squirmed and strained ourselves to come up with an answer to her question.

    After ten minutes of failed attempts my teacher said, “Because you have something to say.”

    It’s so common sense, but it was so compelling that it stuck in my mind to this day. I regularly ask myself when writing, am I just trying to force interest on an uninteresting idea, or do I really have something to say?

    So the question is… What do you have to say?

    About the author

      Jonathan Mead

      Jonathan Mead is the author of Paid to Exist - which is all about getting paid for what you love doing. Get Jonathan's guide to Unlimited Motivation.

    • thanks for sharing this post really nice..

    • I ENJOYED your article about lending a fresh spin to a boring topic

    • Thanks Jonathan,
      I just found this post and wanted to contribute. I think your story about English class and your teacher reduces the question of writing to the absolute truth.

      Write because you have something to say, not write for writing’s sake.

      To keep it simple is golden.

      I would also add that writing should be a conversation between the writer and their audience. Much like a conversation one would have face-to-face and not some high brow diatribe.

    • Roxanna says:

      Thank you for this article. This has helped me with prioritising my writing; I will not write for the sake of writing, I will not force interesting on topics that even I find dull, I will write because I have something to say. I mean, that’s why I started writing for more than myself in the first place. Thanks for taking me back to the basics.

    • Nur Nuha says:

      Hi Jonathan,

      It is so true. I totally agree with you. We have to get excited with our materials and writings before anyone does. It just shows between the words. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Ajay Pai says:

      Bingo! Jonathan.

      When I read the word “template”, it reminded of my office. We have 100’sof templates. Phew! How I wished, that these templates never existed.

      It is very true that whilst writing, one should be able to evoke EMOTIONS. This helps the readers to connect fabulously.

      A good question from the English teacher. I have asked this question myself several times. “Why do I write?” Because I have too many emotions to convey through my writing. I hope, that by these interactions in this platform assists me to benefit.

    • Juliar Nur says:

      Thanks for the post Jonathan, it’s reminder for me to take more great effort to make nice and unforgotten article. It is true the essential point to create awesome writing are to trust the material you have and excited about it. Only with that two point, we can make writing that out of the template. Thanks

    • PJ Reece says:

      Jonathan… your advice hits the mark. Living without a template — we all need to be reminded of this every day, every second! So, thank you for that. But your headline mars this excellent piece. I know we need to hook the reader’s attention, but to promise “double” readership and then never go near that promise is a bit like false advertising. So, I for one, feel manipulated. And consequently might distrust these hyped up (template-heavy) headlines in the future. Please be careful.

    • Annamarie says:

      Thank you Jonathan, just in time, I am having a bout of this,” what do I really want to say.” I know I have plenty to say. But are people interested? Just what most are afraid of I suppose, but trust is important in aspect of life, so yes, trust in what you have to say is a good crutch to walk with if one is needed. Thank you again 🙂

    • jackie says:

      Jonathan, I love this. What a beautiful reminder to trust our message, ourselves and the process of creating. Giving ourselves the space to allow our work to percolate is important. I think our ego selves wants things done in a certain way, by a certain time. But the firings of our creative sparks happen in their own time and often in the liminal space of holding a question.

    • Hey Jonathan

      Your post reminds me of Mr. Scott F’s quote: “Don’t write because you have to say something. Write because you have something to say.”

      I ENJOYED your article about lending a fresh spin to a boring topic – <3

      Thank you #HUGS
      Kitto

    • Jonathan — this is awesome! “Stop forcing interesting.” What a concept. I think that saying the same old tired thing in a different way helps a little. But you’re right — if you really want to be organically interesting, you have to come from a more real place. It takes more effort, but it sure pays off. Thanks for the motivation!

    • Mark Tong says:

      Hey Jonathan – I’ll try and live up to this ideal so I’ll taken a leaf out of your post and only leave this comment because I have something to say 🙂 Last week there was a discussion in the writing group I’m in as what was the most compelling reason to guest post. Many people commented . The answers put forth ranged from authority to SEO, gaining subscribers to getting to know people in your field. My answer was ‘to spread great ideas and help people first’. Their’s simply too much stuff out there to add to the pile “unless you have something to say.” But damn it’s hard to say it well sometimes.

    • Nita Brantley says:

      This post was right on time!

      I have recently hit a dry spell in my writing and this post was really motivating. Just as you have said, I will have to start trusting my writing.

      Thank You so much!

    • Dave Lynch says:

      Jonathan,

      It’s quite refreshing to come across an article about the anti-template in a world of formulas, templates and methods, lol. Very interesting article, but I think a beginner needs to understand the rules before they can break them.

      All the same – writing template-free is a target I’d like to aim for!

      All the best,
      Dave

    • I really love the simplicity of the answer by your English teacher. Sometimes, we complicate things so much that we are not able to understand the simplicity of the topic. You raised a nice question. Sometimes, I get stuck in between while writing something. I have realized one thing behind this issue. Whenever I lose interest in writing, I am not able to connect with the topic.
      Thanks Jonathan for this wonderful reminder.


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