Your Readers’ Dirty Laundry can Spark-up Your Writing | Free Printable | Kris With a K | Writing Coach
Stop Being so Smart!
You heard me. I want you to stop being so darn smart and clever all the time.
Because your readers don’t want you to show them how smart you are. They don’t want your big-words or your clever turns of phrase.
They want your empathy.
Yup. That’s the truth. Think about it though: when was the last time somebody’s clever lecture made you love them? I mean – other than that crush you had on your professor…who knew tweed and elbow patches would be so attractive?
The fact is that you likely felt respect for those smarty-pantses. You felt awe – you may have even felt a strong admiration for them. But I suspect that you could only take that smart-dude tone for a short period of time, or the professor you really loved was the one who could cut that clever-tension easily with the odd joke or anecdote, or even a “I’m right and you’re wrong, Windley. Admit it!”
(I have an unhealthy relationship with authority figures.)
The key to writing well is really about understanding your readers.
And then communicating that understanding to them in a genuine way that makes them feel like it’s all about them, because readers are selfish.
And that’s cool. You are asking them to give you the one thing in life that is totally and completely irreplaceable: their time. They have every right (and inclination) to be selfish. If you want them to give you bits and pieces of their lives, you need to make it worth their while.
People will read your blog posts, your stories, your e-books or your sales-pages for two basic reasons.
The most obvious reason – and the one you will see in all the “How-to write amazing copy” guides and courses – is that you can solve a problem for them. You have knowledge or a product that they need or want.
The most important motivation though – and the one that will take your writing from basically effective copy to writing that will touch the human element of your readers and activate their trust – is the feeling that you are talking to them directly…about their own life.
That trust and understanding creates an instant relationship between you and your reader. It links you as one human talking to another human, and it’s the only way to genuinely communicate anything to anybody – ever.
So how do we activate that magical human-connection?
Stop being so smart, and start being simple.
This is the single most powerful and practical writing advice I’ve been given, though it’s often given in a very clever, but confusing and not so pragmatic way (irony!): “Show. Don’t tell”.
Here’s what that really means, kitten.
Click to Tweet: The easiest way to connect with your reader is to sit in her home and poke at her dirty laundry – without judgement or condescension.
Pay attention to the innocuous details that your readers are paying attention to in their actual lives. Then talk about those details, in relation to the conversation you are having.
If you point to the stack of post-it notes on her desk and the blinking of the cursor on her white, blank screen – she will feel understood and activated by that specificity. EVEN if she doesn’t have a stack of post-its today, she knows what that means and she’s seen it before.
Sit in her office (or dining room, or car) and look around. Feel the tightening of her chest if she’s stressed out – or hear her nails tap-tap-tapping on the desktop while she waits for an email. Then, describe it – in her words.
Those details and that empathy will make your writing (sales-pages or otherwise) a completely different experience for your readers.
I want you to download this free printable worksheet (from my Blogging VIPDay Workbook) and give the activity a try. Even if you don’t see yourself as an artist, this visual activity will help you empathize with your reader’s physical existence – and relate to her as a human too.
Go do it! Get out your crayons or water colours and enjoy yourself. If you’re on Instagram, take a picture of your fun and tag me in it too (@WriteWithaK)! I love seeing your work.
Then choose at least one detail from your reader’s surroundings for each of your senses (sight, smell, touch, hear, taste), tell us about it in the comments section below – and appeal to it in your next blog post or other writing project.
Have fun! See you next Tuesday.
You mad? Excited? Have a perspective to share? Please do!
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I LOVE preschool handiwork!! In fact, if you are on instagram, I want to seeeeee it! Take a picture of your worksheet and tag me in it (@WriteWithaK).
I’m baaaack! 🙂
So here’s my drawing description:
A woman sits calmly with her favorite mug in her favorite chair, sipping her morning brew (tea or coffee). She stares out a window, and to those on the outside she looks entranced. However, in her mind she runs through her to-do list: family needs, connecting with friends, the latest book she wants to read (or the 20+ on her To Be Read list), DIY/craft projects she wants to do, gifts she needs to find for those hard to shop for loved ones…the list goes on and on. She wonders where she’ll find the inspiration and direction to do it all. Maybe she’ll just have another cup of coffee. But the lists never go away and she hopes someone will be there to accept her for who she is – a jumble of lists half done – and help her find the joy she hopes for at the end of her lists.
Awesome visualization, Nalana!
I want you to add some more specifics: what colour is her mug? Is it chipped? Decide what’s in the mug (don’t worry about isolating the tea drinkers by saying coffee or vice versa). Imagine the stack of books she plans on reading instead of an idea of books, and decide where she keeps her lists (notebooks, post-it notes, or paper scraps).
the more decisions you make about those physical details – the more observant you are of the tiniest details – the more your reader will feel known and understood.
Great start! Keep going 🙂
Thank you! I’ll keep at it!
Okay let’s give this a shot. She’s at her computer desk, with her blog pulled up, but she’s staring at her worktable. She can’t decide whether she should be writing a blog post, or finishing that painting. The lingering smell of coffee is in the air…but not from drinking it…no, it’s still in the microwave, where she’s heated it up & forgotten it 3 different times. She can hear the kids screaming the lines to “Let It Go” in the other room, even though she’s begged them to play quietly so she can think. The dog is whining to be taken out, and the dishwasher still needs loaded. She’s remembering her working days, when she felt important and felt on top of it. She knows she’s a competent woman, but the bills are almost due, and she’s feeling the pressure to get more business. Her husband works too hard, and she dreams of bringing in the kind of business that would set him free, and make their dreams come true. But how?
That’s a great start, Amanda!
Add even more physical details – things you could draw. What’s on her desk? What’s on her wall? Is there some mysterious goop on her keyboard? How’s her hair?
Great coffee-in-the-microwave one! I often find random coffee in there from who knows how long ago 🙂