You know when you’re reading something and you find yourself nodding along, agreeing with the writer, and wish you could write like that?
It’s mostly because the writer has tapped into something that resonates with you. Maybe you don’t agree with every word he or she says, but as you enjoy their company, you tend to read along.
If asked, we’d probably say that had a nice, natural writing style.
The thing is this type of writing doesn’t happen by accident. Which is good news, by the way. Why? Because it means with a little persistence, you can get there too. Here are some guidelines given to me. Try them and see if they work.
Write for one person
There is no audience.
JK Rowlings said that when she wrote Harry Potter she wrote for one person – herself. I think what she meant was that if you try to write to an invisible entity with no personality, you’re unlikely to write something that sticks. How could you?
Instead, when I write I try to imagine you, sitting at your desk, reading this post and hoping I can make it sufficiently interest for you to read to the end and, if I’ve done my job well, click on the Twitter or LinkedIn buttons. If I’ve done my job well?
Everyone has some problem, issue, or weak spot. Try to acknowledge this (not in a patronizing way) and blend this into your narrative.
Dd you notice that I opened the article with a question? This prompts you to respond. Emotionally, it gets you off the fence, involved. You’re drawn in. You might not agree but you’re that little bit more engaged that you were before you opened the page.
Don’t over-do it. Asking questions in every paragraph become annoying, it feels like you’re interrogating the reader. Sprinkle a few here and there. Some can be rhetorical questions, for example.
Try to include an observation from your daily life. Try not to manufacture anecdotes. It feels contrived.
They don’t ring true. Instead, look for small examples of things that happened in your day and connect these to the theme of your article.
So, during the day, scribble down little notes regarding things people said, did, didn’t do (when they should have), or maybe signs, posters, or ads you saw.
Use your phone if you want and take a few snaps to remind you later. Also, useful for blog posts.
Avoid over-using You
A tricky one here. It’s important to acknowledge the reader. Using You is one way to include them in the conversation. But you can over-do it.
It’s like when someone uses your name too frequently in conversation. Small alarm bells go off. It feels contrived. Instead, try and get the balance right.
Ask for advice
Even if you’re positioning yourself as an expert, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Again, don’t ask for help if you’ve no intention of acknowledging the response.
But showing that you’re open to learning is a simple way to encourage others to respond.
You can discuss how you understand something, then when closing ask what others think. If you’re using social media to engage with others, this can work very well.
Balance intellectual and emotional observations
A nice balance of stats, figures, and data with some emotional insights works well. It rounds off the article. It also satisfies different parts of the brain.
All of the above are suggestions.
What works for me may not work for you.
But if you try to weave some of these into your daily writing schedule, I think you’ll be impressed with the results. Maybe try one or two every day. See which feel right for you. Experiment and see what works.
What else would you add?