It’s impossible to express your ideas well without also expressing yourself well. No reader wants a dry discourse devoid of humanity, no matter how efficiently and precisely and clearly it may argue for its premise.
What makes a piece of writing interesting is not just the idea being conveyed, but the person behind it. As I’ll discuss in Section B, people are fascinated by other people.
Content Writing Key Fundamentals of Blogging
Express Your Self While Writing
Think of a topic you’re deeply interested in, for example. If you’re deeply interested in it, you probably know of quite a few experts in it. And you probably have strong preferences about which of these you’d rather learn from. For my own part I think of copywriting and marketing.
I know a lot of expert copywriters whose newsletters and blogs I follow. But I skim most of them without reading fully, not because their ideas aren’t interesting, but because they aren’t interesting. The notable exception is Drayton Bird, who injects so much of his cynical, acerbic outlook on bureaucratic incompetence into everything he writes that I can scarcely help reading from beginning to end. Drayton understands that writing is about more than mere informing – it is also about entertaining.
This doesn’t mean you must be a professional entertainer. Not any more than you must be when you invite your friends over for dinner. This might surprise you, but if some people will spend time with you in person just because they like you and what you have to say, then other people will spend time with you on the pages of a website or newsletter or eBook for the same reason.
The difficulty is being both relaxed enough and confident enough that you can express yourself clearly enough to make this happen. So writing to express yourself is what you might call the human obligation.
And it’s not just an obligation to your reader – if you ever want to feel comfortable writing, if you ever want to enjoy the endless enterprise of selecting and arranging words, you must find the process amusing. When you are amused, at least some of your readers will be and to hell with the rest of them.
The human obligation is where style and voice lurk – those timorous wee twin beasties we all yearn to tame. Nothing in either the mechanics of writing or the concepts it expresses will help you find to your voice or develop your style: only when you learn to express yourself will you discover either.
Write Content With Interest
Just as the mechanical and conceptual obligations cannot be separated, so with the obligation to express yourself and the obligation to simply write. This is what I call the aesthetic obligation. It is the only obligation which you owe entirely to yourself – though of course it has benefits that rub off on Sam, your reader.
If the human obligation is about entertaining your reader in the process of expressing your ideas, the aesthetic obligation is about entertaining yourself in the process of writing. So the human obligation is related to the conceptual one, and the aesthetic obligation is related to the mechanical one.
Very simply, you must enjoy the fundamental process of writing. You must appreciate the delicate craftsmanship of composing good prose. You must take delight in selecting one synonym over another; arranging one clause beside another; constructing one sentence instead of another; expressing one thought in consequence of another.
You should not wilt like a pansy when faced with the inevitable prospect of rewriting something you’ve already rewritten – but rather relish it with that same strange intoxication as afflicts the inventor, tinkering with his creation, tuning it to a state of perfect operation. You should even find a simple pleasure in how your words look on the screen.
It’s rather far-fetched to imagine teaching this. Just as with a desire to woo a woman you either have it or you don’t. But assuming you do, I can offer you inspiration and assistance – in cultivating your appreciation for writing, and for overcoming the common obstacles you’ll face in your quest to become a great writer. This all starts with simple mechanics – so that’s where we’ll start too.