Whether you’re writing to help market and grow your business or you write for fun and leisure, the more your writing impacts people, the more rewarding writing can be. But how do you write with impact? Three of the most important steps to compelling writing are:
Purpose: Know why you’re writing. What goals do you want to achieve with your writing?
Passion: Get in touch with what entrances you, or evokes your curiosity or enhances your creativity.
Polish: Take time to read your writing aloud, edit, get feedback and refine your writing so that it truly affects your readers and is not just one more flash in the pan for them.
Purpose doesn’t mean just knowing why you’re writing. That’s important, for sure. But you also want to be clear who your audience is. What are they looking for in their own terms? If you’re writing a magazine article, column, blog post or book on eating healthy foods, why are your core readers going to read it? Because they’ve always wanted to read a book on healthy food or because they’re sick and want to get healthy or because they want to lose weight or to feel more energy? When you know what pain they want to get out of, and what results and benefits they want to achieve, you can write with that purpose in mind. Often, your core audience is in the most distress, so focus on them and other audiences will come along for the ride.
Passion is all about getting in touch with the spark that interested you in writing about a subject in the first place. Sometimes people get overwhelmed when they look at a blank page. Take a break, close your eyes, and imagine what impact your book, article or blog post will have when it’s done. What results might your readers have? What might they say to you about how your writing affected them? When you take time to imagine the power of your words, you’ll be back in touch with your passion and the words can flow. [If you still feel a little stuck, try outlining, so you can bite off the writing in small chunks rather than take on the whole thing]. Polish means taking the time to make your writing smooth, colorful and real for the reader. How do you accomplish that?
Here are 5 ways to polish your writing:
Show your readers; don’t tell them: Provide anecdotes with specific details that make your examples come to life. Rather than write about, “A client who had trouble making money…” tell us, “When John came to me he couldn’t pay his mortgage.” Statistics can also illustrate. But don’t speak in generalities. You’ll lose (and bore) your readers. You also don’t want your reader to have to take your word for something. Let them draw the conclusion by showing them.
Use exciting verbs: Verbs hold all the power. They’re active. That is, unless they’re passive. Passive verbs put readers into a stupor. Sometimes you can’t help using “is,” “was, “ or “has,” but the more you can replace these verbs with powerful action oriented verbs, the more compelling your writing will naturally be.
Read out loud to see how it sounds: You’ll naturally catch what doesn’t sound right, what needs clarifying, and what to do more of.
Get feedback: Ask people in your target audience to read your writing and let you know what they like best, what they want more of, what’s not clear and what they don’t like. You might also hire an editor to take your writing to the next level.
Lighten up: Come to the writing with a sense of playfulness and fun. You’ll take the pressure off yourself, have more fun, and this joie de vivre will reach and rub off on your readers. Tools like alliteration (words that start with the same letter), hyperbole (exaggeration) and metaphor can playfully engage your reader.
Writing provides an opportunity to make a difference in your own life and those of your readers.
Enjoy yourself through purpose, passion and polish and your readers will, too.