Ahoy and happy Monday!
Welcome to another week of Start Writing Online—where every week we dive into 1 of the 10 biggest problems all writers face:
- Generating ideas
- Imposter syndrome
- Writing consistently
- Finding time to write
- Loose feedback loops
(And, of course, if you want to crush all 10 of these AND master the fundamentals of Digital Writing in just 30 days, we'd love to have you in the next cohort of Ship 30 for 30!)
This week, we want to point out 2 big mistakes writers make that keep you from attracting readers, building a loyal audience, and scaling yourself online!
Unfortunately, these mistakes are extremely common. And not only are they common, but they’re hard for beginner writers to break.
So first, we’re going to point out what the mistakes are.
And then we’re going to tell you how to fix them.
The 2 big mistakes writers make in their writing
- Writing to figure out what you're trying to say
- Writing because you love to hear yourself talk
The reason these 2 mistakes are so catastrophic is because neither has the reader’s best interests in mind. Either the writer is using writing as a vehicle for self-understanding (which is fine, but nobody needs to slog through that with you) or the writer is using writing as a vehicle to “show off” (which is fine, but again, that’s for you and your own self-satisfaction—but not the reader).
So, let’s pick each one apart.
And let’s walk through how to fix it.
Writing To Figure Out What You’re Trying To Say
This is really called “journaling.”
And journaling is an amazing personal practice that every writer should adopt (in some way) to foster more self-understanding, clarity of natural voice, and trust in themselves that “the right words” will flow.
Journaling is for you—not the reader. And when it comes to writing, publishing, and Practicing In Public, the reader is who matters most.
So, here’s how to fix it:
Treat your journal (or an empty notepad/word document) as the canvas where you explore different topics or ideas until you land on the one you feel most passionate about (or realize you have the most knowledge about). Where you “try things.” Where you ultimately work to figure out what it is you’re trying to say.
Then, once you know “Oh! This is what I’m really trying to say!” then start writing elsewhere. Use a template inside Typeshare.co and start organizing your thoughts. Work toward that North Star you’ve concluded is the right direction.
But you want to have that clarity before you start cranking out sentences and paragraphs.
Writing Because You Love To Hear Yourself Talk
There’s an old adage in the writing world that says, “You must kill your darlings.”
Translation: even if you think something is cool, or funny, or heartwarming, or clever, the more important question is whether the reader will think so as well.
Writers who enjoy “hearing themselves talk” are sort of like the people at dinner parties who won’t shut up. At first, you find them mildly entertaining. And then after a few minutes, your eyes start scanning the room for the bar and a large glass of wine. You can’t stand it anymore!
So, here’s how to fix it:
After you’ve finished writing something (a Twitter Thread, a LinkedIn story, an Atomic Essay, a long-form blog post, or even a digital product, eBook, or entire novel), read it out loud.
Let the words hang off the edge of your tongue.
When you read your writing out loud, you will hear when you are writing for the reader versus when you are writing for yourself. And wherever you feel yourself “writing for yourself,” cut it. Delete it. “Kill your darlings.”
Write for your reader.
Not your own ego.
That's it for today!
Chat next week!
–Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole
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