I write a lot. I mean, a lot. I can be found at my desk for at least 12 hours per day and for most of that time, I’m writing. I obviously enjoy doing what I do or I wouldn’t be doing it. Anyone as diligent as I am can find a variety of things to do in this world. It’s strange how I chose writing as my favorite activity.
A lot comes along with writing. Well, effective writing, that is. When it comes to blogging, all bets are off. There’s a special format you need to follow when engaging in this activity. No one wants to read a long-winded post. No one wants to read a post that wanders and goes nowhere. Not many people read blog posts to be entertained. The reader wants answers and help and everything in between. I’m sure there are some folks out there who read blog posts for the simple enjoyment they offer, but I’d venture a guess that there aren’t many of those folks.
The situation is very similar when it comes to news articles. Brevity is key. Over the past few years I’ve noticed that many news organizations now post summaries of their stories at the tops of the pages they’re written on. The reasoning behind this is that not many people are interested in reading the entire article though. They want the facts and then to move on. Think of those New Yorker articles. Have you ever tried to read one of those things? They’re about a mile long and I’m not sure anyone on earth has ever read an entire piece.
In this post, I’d like to discuss four points of intent for something you may want to write in the future. The reason intent is so critical when it comes to writing is that it creates an enormous amount of focus. Without focus, writing can get lost and wander away from its author. If that happens, readers tend to wander away as well. When an author has focus, his or her writing shows it and readers find what they’re looking for. Succinct and clearly targeted articles and blog posts can cultivate an audience that will remain an audience for years to come.
The first point of intent I’d like to discuss has to do with informing your readers about something they may be interested in. As an author, when you inform, you need to make sure you stick to the script. Let’s pretend that you’re trying to inform a reader about a new model of car that’s available on the market. Your job would be to tell the reader about the technical aspects of the car, how safe it is, how fast it can go, how much it costs and things like that. It’s important to stay focused when writing to inform because the last thing an interested party wants is verbosity and a story about something that has nothing to do with the car.
The next point I’d like to discuss has to do with persuading someone to do something that you may want them to do. In the example above, perhaps a technical writer may have written the piece. When it comes to persuasion, a marketer will most likely do the writing. When you persuade, you compare and contrast. You hide the less important facts and highlight the important ones. You show what matters and why the reader might find those things valuable to them. Selling and persuading isn’t an easy task. It’s about knocking down barriers and building bridges. It’s about getting from no to yes. It takes focus and tact. The author needs to realize these things and completely commit to leaving out extraneous information in lieu of what’s pertinent to the sale.
Just to break in here for a moment, I’d like to let you know that much of what I’m sharing with you can overlap. As you’re explaining the technical aspects of a vehicle, those aspects may be helpful in persuading a potential buyer to make a purchase. The goal here is to target your blog post or article at your primary goal, no matter what information you choose to help you meet that goal.
Let’s now talk about entertaining someone through your writing. When writing to entertain, you need to take a step back, smile and put yourself at ease. Readers can feel the vibe of someone’s writing. If you’re primary intent is to entertain, you should focus on making the reader feel at ease. Talk about whimsical things or events that occurred in your life. Going back to the car example, think about the first time your car broke down and how horrible that was, in a funny sort of way. Talk about your best friend’s first vehicle and how much of a piece of junk it was. Keep your reader connected with your story and be sure not to interject with a sales pitch or too much information about the technical aspects of the car itself. This is story time.
Finally, we have times when you’d like to inspire people. This takes a lot of focus because it needs to be done in a crafty manner. Think about a politician’s speech. Think about a coach’s talk before a big game. This may be the most challenging style of writing because it can easily incorporate all three types of writing I just described above. When writing to inspire, your intent is to have your reader feel a certain way or to do something better than they would have done it without being inspired. You’re attempting to bring the best out of someone and that may take technical knowledge, some persuasion as well and some entertaining. To me, this is the most difficult of all because there’s a lot to consider and there will most likely be a lot of re-writes. Those re-writes are worth it though because very inspirational pieces have the potential to go down in history.
Please let me know how you keep your focus when you’re writing. Do you have a clear intent with each and every piece you produce? Feel free to share below.