by Meg Dowell
The writer-reader connection is delicate.
Possibly one of the biggest challenges new writers face is figuring out how to create a bond between themselves and people they may never meet face-to-face.
How do you connect with someone in such a way that they feel you’re speaking only to them?
How do you make a stranger feel like someone, finally, GETS IT?
I have an answer to these questions. And at first, it’s going to seem a little simplistic. But trust me, it’s much deeper than it seems. This is one of those things you tend to forget the longer you write — or don’t really understand when you’re first starting out. So bear with me.
How do you make a connection with your audience they’ll never forget?
Write from your heart.
I know that sounds all sparkly and full of fluff. But I mean it. If you aren’t investing even a small piece of you into your project, your readers will feel disconnected from it. It’s not just about being able to relate to what a writer is saying. The “passion” behind their words also matters. And you can tell, reading, when a writer put less than full effort into their work.
I’m not saying passion is the only thing that makes people want to read your work. You also have to write well, and connect your ideas, and, maybe, stand for something a large group of people can willingly and easily get behind.
But if your heart’s not in it, how can you expect anyone else to care?
I know for a fact this blog wouldn’t have grown so much in the past few years if I didn’t care. If I just kept cranking out blog posts because I wanted the views, it would be obvious. But people find their way here and maybe aren’t always drawn into my blog as a whole, or me as a person on the other side of a screen. They find what they’re looking for here because I am a writer who cares deeply enough about writing — and my fellow writers — to insert myself into every post. Every day. No matter what.
I’ve read blogs written by people who aren’t fully invested. There just seems to be something missing, something between each line of text that’s hard to describe.
It becomes much more obvious when all a writer seems to care about is selling something. If all you care about is making money, and you couldn’t care less about what you and your words actually stand for, I don’t really feel the need to invest actual time or money in your product. And it’s likely others will feel the same way.
Your readers want to be informed, entertained, and mirrored — they want to see themselves in what you’re writing. But they also want to feel like the words they’re reading are coming from someone who not only knows what they’re talking about, but would genuinely sit down with a reader, if the opportunity ever arose, and engage in productive conversation about that topic — simply because they LOVED talk about it THAT MUCH.
That’s what you need to write about. These things that other people will want to learn more about because you’re so deeply invested in talking about it.
I wish I could do a better job of explaining this. Because I know there are going to be things you have to write, even though you don’t want to. And how are you supposed to write those things with purpose if you’d rather be doing literally anything else?
I think that’s where your voice comes in. Part of creativity is learning how to put your own spin on everything you write, even if it’s not your favorite project to tackle. (Think: query letters, PR emails, memos to your department — except, I don’t know, I used to love that part of my former job….).
The more you allow yourself to write about whatever brings out your truly passionate self, the easier it becomes to connect with those who share that passion with you.
No more writing about “what others want to read about.” No more writing “what’s going to get the most clicks.” Just write about what you care about. That’s what I did. And … well, this isn’t the greatest blog that ever lived. But I think it’s safe to say it’s made it past its very early “nobody cares” phase.
Unless there are 600 of you who don’t actually care. No! Don’t tell me that. I’d rather be oblivious, and just go on writing about writing because THAT’S WHAT I LOVE TO DO. (:
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.