Candice Landau • September 12, 2014
A couple of months ago, I had a “writer’s revelation.”
If you’re a copywriter, a journalist a content marketer, or if you intend to do writing in any form in the future, you may want to try the approach that has come to work so well for me:
Forget your reader and write entirely for yourself!
That’s right, forget everything you’ve ever been told. Forget me. Forget the rest of the world, and write what you want to read. Write that very thing you’ve been trying to figure out. Write about that thing that fascinates you. Write to learn. Write to record your experiences. Write to answer the question you’ve been mulling over.
For 4 years – my entire career as a marketer/copywriter – I’ve been told to get inside my audience’s head. I’ve been told to focus on YOU and what YOU want. I’ve read it in books. I’ve heard it from peers. I’ve been told as much by well-meaning managers. They all say the same thing, “Think of your reader’s desires. What do they want? Are you writing with those desires in mind?”
In fact, it’s now so ingrained that every time I sit down to write, I’m first thinking of what YOU might want to read. And it SUCKS.
When I think of your needs instead of my own, here’s what happens:
- I subconsciously accept that my opinions and experiences are less valuable or less valid than others’.
- I lose interest in the topic. Maybe this one is personal but I don’t think so. After all, who actually enjoys rehashing someone else’s content?
- I abandon my unique voice in favor of the tried-and-tested. So, my writing becomes boring!
- I ‘source rather than solve’ – that is, I look for information to back up a point rather than think critically about the problem, solving it in my own way.
- I take a REALLY long time to write something good or, even worse, I take very little time and write something I’m totally not proud to share or attach my name to.
- I am less than honest. When I write with my reader in mind I hold back. I don’t share my personal experiences and I avoid using my distinct voice. I make it that much harder for you to see me as a real person and to connect with me.
Obviously, if you’ve been hired to write on a specific topic, you can’t deviate too much, but you can approach that topic with your own interests in mind, as I did when I wrote about business cards in relation to my own jewelry.
Consider: do you find what you’re writing helpful? Are you learning? Are you boring yourself? If you’re not learning and you’re bored as you write, you can probably guarantee your reader will be too. This is a truism I picked up on writing courses and it’s never failed me to date. If I’m bored, you’re bored.
If you’ve ever meditated, think of this exercise in a similar fashion. In meditation, you have to keep grounding yourself, willing each muscle in your body to relax. Time and time again until you’re in a state of deep calm.
The same is true of writing. Every time the inner critic rears its ugly head, press it back, just as you do when you meditate. Write something you’re proud to share. Write something that teaches you. Write something to ADD to the world. Keep pressing the critic away and focus on the actual content. Focus on what you want to say or figure out. Focus on transferring your thoughts to paper.
This is how we write fiction, so why not non-fiction?
If this approach works for you, let me know. And, if you’ve got any other great writing hacks, do share them with me in the comments.
This article was originally published by Candice Landau on LinkedIn.