What do you imagine your favorite novelist is doing right now? Is she being romanced by some gorgeous hero? Is he resolving a generations-long family feud? Perhaps the person who writes those best sellers you love to take to the beach is on a two week bender that will be resolved with a trip around the world to find herself. Nah. Most likely she’s updating her Facebook page and booking flights for her next appearance at Barnes and Noble somewhere outside of Chicago.
And what about your favorite blogger? Is he saving a kitten from a tree? Is she landing an agent to make that blog into a book? Maybe that writer you love to see in your newsfeed is water skiing in the Mediterranean while contemplating the next viral post.
Doubtful. She’s probably trying to scrub the mysterious sticky spots off the counter so she can put down her laptop and get 200 words down before the family comes home and everything goes from messy to noisy and messier.
As a writing coach, I get to give my share of writing advice. I also get the chance to hear what other writers and non-writers say about how to make the process easier and how to produce more engaging stuff.
Some of that advice is brilliant and I do my best to embody it so that I can offer my own version of it. And some of it makes my skin crawl.
Myth: Your content isn’t engaging your audience so you must be a boring person
Recently, a professional who keeps a blog to promote her business was brought to tears by a coach who declared that if your writing isn’t connecting with people it must mean you have a boring life. The advice was to go out and take some risks. And then, I guess, come back and "wow" people with how adventurous and special and fabulous you are.
This is lazy advice. Clearly it’s also damaging advice. And, in this writer’s opinion, going bungee jumping or visiting Tahiti or going on a blind date aren’t necessarily going to make you a better writer.
If you feel that your writing isn’t connecting with people you don't need more "material." Instead, you need to give yourself time and permission to do something with your human moments.
Readers don’t seek high drama and “amazing” tales when they're looking to heal a broken heart or connect with the guy sitting beside them on the couch. They need to see what's possible in their everyday lives. They need to see how life can be a little more beautiful or bearable before they’re going to care about how bold you are.
"Go be more interesting" is the kind of counsel offered by someone who is afraid of the process of meeting yourself in the silence of the page.
Trust the magic that happens in the little moments of life. To make a connection at the simple, truthful level of the human heart you have to remember that this beautiful organ almost always beats along in the most perfectly mundane way.
When you're writing your next blog post, meet your ideal clients where they are. Don’t drag yourself up a mountain just to find them.
Be who you are. Write about who you are in your everyday mess and everyday loveliness and everyday struggle. That's what will make readers care. That's what it means to connect.
Learn how to tell real stories that matter to you and to your ideal client in the You, Your Stories, and Your Audience ecourse. Doors are open now!