This is the last of four articles on my “Golden Rules of Writing”.
Thanks so much to those of you who have written to tell me about your experience with writing. Hearing from the members of the community always makes me happy!
I will be coming to NYC in a month’s time to teach a coaching workshop, and I will also do an evening presentation with my new found friend and colleague Melissa Tiers. I will send a separate announcement in the next day or two to let you know more. I look forward to meeting some of you for the first time!
Spring is finally in the air here in Tokyo, and it is wonderful to once again see the cherry blossoms bursting forth! I hope you will find the same sense of renewal within yourself.
2. Golden rules of writing- Part 4
The reader reacts to you, more so than to the words you write.
The reader will “read between the lines” and develop a feeling for you, and an opinion about your model of the world. Whatever they wind up intuiting, your written words will not convince them differently.
Consider and meditate on, “where” your words come from.
Are you writing mainly from your heart or from your intellect? No matter how “expert” or insightful your writing might be, people will respond the most when you write from your heart.
Consider what your writing says about you. When it’s all said and done, you are always only writing about your model of the world. Don’t get confused into thinking you are writing about “the truth”.
Hopefully people will have great interest in reading what you write, but the greatest interest they will have is in reading your heart.
Your heart needs to be open and inviting. The more you hold back, the more the reader will hold back. Nothing is more inviting to people than when you express your vulnerability.
Be as transparent as possible and trust in the ability of the reader to read your heart.
The more transparent you become, the more your true thoughts, feelings, and motives will be perceived by the reader. When you are transparent light will pass through your writing, illuminating the place your words are birthed from. In this regard, simple, humble, and unadorned is best. And it is almost always good to show a sense of humor as well!
More so than writing about yourself, write to the reader.
In a real world conversation, if you only talk about yourself, soon people will wonder if you have any interest in their feelings. Most people will want to feel that you care about them, and they will shut down if you only seem interested in yourself. The same is true when writing.
As much as possible, do away with “I, me, my” and show an interest in the reader.
Give the reader something they will want to hold onto
If you don’t give the reader something life affirming to hold onto, they will tend to withdraw from you and what you write.
You don’t have to always be happy and upbeat. You can say something sad or disturbed, as long as you give the reader a sense of a potential positive outcome. Your reader will want to believe that “something good can come from all this”. (And yes, of course there have been numerous successful novels and movies that have ended on a very dark note.)
When writing about others, the more you erase your voice, the closer the reader will feel towards the people you write about.
This is particularly true when writing stories that have characters. Leave the reader alone with the characters, so they feel like they are taking part in an intimate conversation. Rather than talking for your characters, have your characters talk directly to the reader.
The writer should introduce the reader to the story and the characters and then withdraw, so the reader can interact with the characters without feeling like they are being watched.
Describe in detail what you are wanting to express, rather than “naming” it.
Instead of saying “I was frightened.” Describe your fear in detail. “My heart was racing, and I could barely breathe, as I found myself unable to speak.”
Make sure your writing has a core message, without explaining to the reader what that message is.
Read through what you have written to be sure your writing has a clear message. Then, allow for the reader to decide what that message is.
Writing that is well received usually has some level of suspense or surprise
Writing should have some degree of suspense, much in the same way as a good joke. The reader should not be able to discern the key line/action, until it is delivered.
Stay open to the possibility of surprising yourself as well!
90% of the task of writing is editing and cleaning up what is before you on the page.
It is hard to overstate the importance of keeping this in mind. Especially if you tend to not actually write, but instead keep running over in your mind what you will write once you are clear.
No matter how incomplete, put your thoughts down “on paper” and then work from there. If you do this “writer’s block” will not be a problem.
If possible, show your work to other writers whom you admire and ask for their honest feedback.
This is crucial. Why? Because you will be “too close” to your writing to know what should be different.
In this regard, if you want to publish what you write, a good editor is essential.
Well that’s it! In regard to my thoughts on writing I have said it all for now. I hope this series has given you some definite value.