Tips for writers who want their words to stick.
So you grab your laptop, open a fresh browser tab, and make your way to a fresh canvas on which to type away with your thoughts. You’re used to this routine by now.
After days of practice, you’ve come to terms with your words. And even if you aren’t, you’re getting there.
The excitement builds in anticipation of what will come from that brain of yours. But then something happens. As you start to type, a feeling of doubt overcomes you.
Suddenly you begin to see yourself as a nobody without anything to contribute to the world. So you stop, backspace, backspace, backspace, until there’s nothing left on the screen.
All those thoughts, feelings, and ideas—gone.
Why are they gone, you might ask? Because of your self-doubt.
You considered yourself unfit for a creative endeavor like writing. In your mind, that stuff should be left to those who actually have something to say.
Right there. That’s where we go wrong. Because we do have something to say, and the amazing part is it’s not all going to be the same.
Instead, there’s a mosaic of creativity that showcases the reality of those who step outside the bounds of self-restriction and into a realm of freedom.
Freedom to be themselves with their own words for the sake of a smarter, healthier, and uncomfortably loving world.
To serve your progress, there are a few tips to help your words stick. These tips have helped me in my writing journey. And although I’m never done learning, I can’t help but pass on a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Tip #1 — Catch Their Eyes
It can really be intimidating, especially if you’re new to any environment of writers and creators from all over. Some are well-known. Many are unheard of, maybe even like you.
I can relate to that feeling myself. It’s now been almost seven months of writing for me. From the first day, I knew I was a little fish in a big ocean. The words of other writers out there made mine seem insignificant.
Not long after writing my first story, though, I became more and more comfortable with the platform and the community of amazing people that comprise it.
I even surprised myself with hitting landmarks I never expected to see any time soon.
I can assure you, it’s not as hard as it seems.But it does require intentional effort, which sucks sometimes.
Most of the time, forgetting about the hard part is what holds you back. It did for me when I started. Now, I want to help you get over the fears that keep you from writing unavoidable content your readers will appreciate.
Within a split, second people are either turned off by your post or attracted to it. There are other factors of course. But from the onset, this is one of the main reasons stories go unnoticed.
It’s true what they say: pictures are worth a thousand words. They speak to people before they even begin to skim over the actual story. Nothing says “Read Me” more than an attractive image.
So, with this mind, it’s crucial that you consider adding an image that not only compliments the piece itself but also tells a large part of the story for you.
As a photographer, I know what kind of image I’m looking for. But you don’t have to be a photographer to choose a great photo. This platform, in particular, makes selecting an image simpler and more efficient anyway.
I was using Unsplash before joining Medium. So when I found out it was built into the platform, so to speak, I was pumped to explore the pictures.
The next area of interest was one of the most obvious, yet it was one I was overlooking.
There are tools to help you write more appealing headlines, like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. It will still be a matter of taste and trial runs until you get what you really want.
The key is not beating around the bush with it. Clickbait is becoming more unattractive because it leaves readers confused because the title doesn’t match the content, or it fails to provide what you were looking for.
Trust me, that won’t last.
What will last is a meaningful headline that discloses the meat of the whole story without going into detail.
Once you have their attention, then you have the challenge of keeping it. Which leads me to the next point…
Tip #2 — Get to the Point and Stay There
Today, the attention span of readers is very short. We can debate whether that’s a good thing or not. But ultimately, you have work with what you have.
If you know people are going to skim through a piece, make it easier for them to read it. Don’t spend lots of time dancing around your point when you can get straight to it.
The intro is where this works best. Keeping it short and concise is a win no matter what your subject matter is. Roughly disclose the message, then dig deep into the meat of it all in the body of your story.
A good rule of thumb is answering the following questions before you even begin.
Why am I writing this?
Who am I writing this for?
What do I want them to do in the end?
The answers to those questions make for the clearest point to get you off on the right foot. Ultimately, it makes the writing process much easier.
At the end of the day, we all want to be heard. But if you aren’t establishing strong habits that’ll make your posts stand out, they will go unnoticed in no time. So it literally pays to take note of these simple steps.
Tip #3 — If You Write to Help, They Will Come
No matter what you’re writing about, your purpose should be to help someone else. You’d be surprised how many people skip this one. I was one of them.
Sure, I wanted to tell my story. But I didn’t close the gap between the problem and the solution. I didn’t tell people how they could get to where they want to be. And that isn’t useful for anyone, not even yourself.
Always, always write to help.
What lessons have you learned that can help someone else?
You never know who is going through the same experiences as you. Keep that in mind as you write and you’ll have a purpose behind the words you compose.
We all want to be seen, too. We want our stories to stand out from the crowd and mean something more than we could ever imagine. But sometimes we don’t take the necessary steps to make that happen.
Make it real.
Make it about “us” from your vantage point.
Use your experiences, struggles, triumphs, failures to convey your story to the eyes and ears of your readers and they will find value in them.
I’m no expert. But I can say that this is what has helped me over the last six months of writing. And I’m sure it will help you too.