It is a miraculous thing, if you think about it, to be able to transfer the ideas and words in our head and heart into text. The jumbled passion of knowledge and emotion gain clarity as we are forced to organize phrases, sentences, paragraphs. When we re-read the stream of thoughts, they are powerful, almost tangible. Especially when they actually communicate what we intend.
It is not always easy, though.
We can never control how someone responds to our words, but we can seek to make them as clear as possible, to give a reader the best opportunity.
Here are a few tips that have helped some of our writers:
Wait for Inspiration: There is nothing more motivating than a clear moment of inspiration. Capitalize on it. There is usually a magical window when your idea or insight is strong and clear. Capture it. Get it all down quickly. You can go back and edit later, but at least 80% of the effort is usually complete if you take advantage of those inspirational moments.
Slow Down: My husband took a speech and debate class in college, and his professor encouraged him to slow down when he spoke. The audience needed time to absorb all of his words. In the same way, when you write, you can take for granted that your reader knows everything you do. You might have to slow down and offer brief explanations or “fill in the blanks” for someone with a different frame of reference. This helps them to easily follow your train of thought instead of having to stop and try to figure out what they missed.
Write Something: As a former English teacher, the advice still holds true for us as adults – put something on your “paper”! On days when it seems like all you have is a title and you are feeling stuck, sometimes it just takes that first sentence to unlock the flood of ideas. However, if this doesn’t work, just step away from the computer, take a walk, exercise, read, and try again another time.
Know Your Audience: Who are you writing for? If it is more than just yourself, it is wise to consider the persona of your typical readers. Women? Young? Business Professionals? Educators? Trendy, healthy, urbanite who eats organic foods, shops at REI, rides the bus, and goes camping on the weekends? The more you can put yourself in their shoes and ponder their questions or concerns, the better you can tailor your content and message to their needs.
When you do these things, you have a greater likelihood of getting your message across faster and more effectively, whether it be a blog post, newsletter article, or full book. The “work” of writing can then be enjoyable. You create. It becomes. Your message lives.
As a writer, what things help you most to get your message across? Feel free to comment below.
3 thoughts on “Getting Your Message Across”
Sonya, these points are all so true! I struggle with all of them at times. I fall into the trap of believing my writing will all flow right out of myself in perfect format. I try to skip the “drafting” stage, and it never works that way. Like so many others have said, re-writing is the key to writing 🙂 Great post. I love the site!
Yes, I agree about re-writing–I have become friends with my delete button! Also, if I find myself stuck (either from too many ideas and not knowing how to focus, or from not knowing what final message I want to close with), I often pause and meditate for a moment. I try to quiet everything and make space inside myself for the answer to come. It’s amazing how well that works.
Thanks, Allison. I do think we all have different styles of writing. I know some people who “edit as they go,” and others who just save as a draft and come back to it again another day. And there are those wonderful few who can often just get it out there clearly on their first try.
I always enjoy reading your posts and look forward to your book one day, too.