How to set Your Readers on Fire with Your Writing

The desire to write thoughts down onto a surface has been around ever since somebody invented the first readers.

Readers had to learn to understand the words that writers use, and put them in a position of expectation from the writer. They trust a writer will deliver the goods and make them happy.

What a Writer Does

Writers agree that there’s something fascinating about seeing your own thoughts transform from fluffy ideas that float around in the head to solid looking black and white on paper.

A blank piece of screen filled with ideas is tempting to everybody who can read, if the writer has used their bonce while formulating ideas, the first few words should be enough to draw your reader in and share your idea.

The Stakes are High

Readers are demanding people, they don’t want to have their time wasted by navel gazing Sunday philosophers who have suddenly alighted upon a thought, they want fiery emotions of the soul that will feed their need. Readers can be word junkies always seeking the next hit of high emotion.

Writing is Work

When we write each day, we are practising the art of thinking. We tap with our fingers and words light up the screen, we check for coherence, sense, syntax and anything else that might be important in conveying our thoughts. Such as emotion among all that grammar.

Think for yourself and Trust your Thoughts

What we are practising is more than just the type of writing learned at school, we are honing our thinking skills, and more specifically, we are sharpening our own way of thinking about the subject we are writing about.

Writing develops sharp thinking, focused formulation of ideas that can be understood by most people, how to be open but firm with your opinions, critical thinking, reflections that are useful for readers to think about.

We get to write about all these things when we know about them, love, hate, disappointments and betrayals all work well as a vehicle for roller coaster stories.

We want readers to also think for themselves, the purpose of a novel is entertainment, but we still want the reader to think about what they’ve read. The skill on our side of things is to get the reader to think about our reflections on a subject. We don’t want them thinking about our writing, that would take them away from the story or article.

Write Everyday or When you Like?

There’s a lot of chatter about “writing everyday”, is it right or wrong, too much for our brains, or just foolishness?

Everyday writing is like a work-out in the gym. It depends on what your aim is, heavy lifting everyday is exhausting and you’d probably start to find good reason to give some days a miss. Writing can also drain us of energy, thinking does that, and working the keys from morning till night is the work of professional writer.

You can be a professional writer, work all day at a story or sharpening the edges on an important article, but if your thoughts are fuzzy and the willing mind is flagging, then maybe you should slow down and find your own pace. Readers love that feeling of getting into a book, that only happens when you have been so sharp with your observations, managed to get them into words on the paper that you lead the reader into your clear and welcoming world of writing.

I like to write each day, and it feels very natural for me to do so. Years ago it wasn’t that easy to sit down and start writing everyday of my week, my mind was always somewhere else, more important things to do.

I think my brain also figured out that once I put my butt in the seat, it would stay there for hours on end. That’s not a healthy way to spend our days.

We need to move and get out and meet other people — how else would we find ideas to write about and please our readers?

Critical Thinking for Writers

Critical thinking is the real power of the mind. It should be laser sharp and create sparks when it touches something fuzzy. “Fuzzy” can be the mind of an intrigued reader when they come across your article. The writer’s job is to light up that fuzzy interest in the reader with a few words that motivate them enough to keep on reading past the first few lines. That’s hard to do, all of the time.

Writing each and everyday is the practice of thinking, developing all the skills necessary to convey fully formulated thoughts onto the paper or screen. It’s not easy to do, it’s hard to do.

Some established writers write three times a week, others every morning for three hours, most of them admit that even when they are not writing they are thinking about writing.

Our job as writers is to help others to think more clearly, to realise things about a subject or topic, informing but not lecturing, enlightening people to ideas that they might want to get more deeply into. All this wrapped up into stories.

If we keep practising each week, so that when we look back on a month we can tell ourselves that we didn’t fail at all, we wrote words, kept at it, got stuff down on paper and that’s worth something in itself, then we are learning to think, we have exercised the complex pattern of thinking that a professional writer needs when at the keyboards.

That’s when we know that we can set the reader on fire with words.

Write this week, or each day of the week until your wrists hurt and fingers bleed, but do it your own way, because that’s where the good thinking will come from, from you and your ideas. That’s when readers will love your work as much as you do.

Written by

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Living

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