How to Write for People Who Don't Read

I always find a way to put pen to paper. I spent hours writing in journals, I was a writer and editor-in-chief at my high school newspaper, I liked writing papers in University, and I went way above and beyond on my (mandatory) travel blog during my exchange in Ireland. 

When I sat down to write my first blog post at my first job after graduation, I was excited and ready to impress. I knew my writing wasn’t perfect, but I got a quick wake up call that it really wasn't where it needed to be. The piece of feedback that stuck with me the most is that people don’t read.

I remember taking it personally and wondering if my writing was really that bad. I learned three important lessons.

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write for readers, not for writers

Remember that people are inundated by words every minute of the day and they read with purpose. If you don't deliver what they need, they will move on within a few seconds. 

When I re-read my old blog posts, they sounded more like letters to my mom and dad. I realized that I struggled to be concise because I never had to be - I wrote blog posts just like I wrote in my journal. 

After writing for several clients, I was reminded that people don't read because they enjoy good writing. It seems simple, but it's easy to forget that the person who enjoys good writing the most is you. Readers just want facts, advice, or a story. 

Develop your Voice

Your voice is the one thing you are supposed to own as a writer, and the only way to find it is with practice. Without practice (or with the wrong kind of practice) it's easy to lose it. 

I realized that I struggled to be concise because I never had to be - I wrote blog posts just like I wrote in my journal. I needed to learn how to balance being playful and concise.

Fighting with your words can crush your confidence. Make friends with the process of rediscovering your voice because the more frustrated you get, the less you will write. Give your words a chance to hit the page before you critique them. Most importantly, stop questioning whether you have something valuable to say.

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Write with purpose

In December, I attended a workshop hosted by Red Point Media and the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association and my biggest takeaway was something so simple. Always ask yourself, would I click on this? It's the quickest way to find out if you are writing with purpose. 

Avoid getting attached to what you have written so you can remain objective and write with your readers top of mind. Writing is very personal, but you have to welcome (and ask for) feedback.

If you're a writer and have any other pieces of advice (or if you are a reader with feedback for me) share it in the comments below!