90% of writing published online isn’t worth the server space it’s stored on. This is due to lack of purpose and underdeveloped style. Many writers fail to take themselves seriously. Perhaps they underestimate the validity of their ideas or the power of the medium.
Effective writing can be learned by practice and observation. The purpose of this article is to encourage the creation of forceful, passionate writing, the sort of writing people love to read.
1. You write what you read.
Stop reading the same meaningless, repetitive writing everyone else reads. Quality of output directly correlates to quality of input. I’ve noticed the technical quality of my writing and the originality of my ideas sharply decline when I fall into the habit of reading nothing but blogs.
Absorb fresh ideas and sublime style by reading old books, written by masters of language. Then take these ideas and pretend you invented them. You’ll be hailed as a prophet.
The subject matter of the books you read is secondary. The value comes from unconsciously absorbing the style of the author. This is how we learn to write rhythmic sentences and clearly convey meaning. You will also find unexpected inspiration.
2. Avoid balanced views.
When forming an opinion, it is necessary to consider the strengths and weaknesses of alternatives and select the most correct. Many writers use the same method when making an argument.
Unfortunately, this reasonable process makes for weak writing. If you wish to influence readers mentally and emotionally, do not concede the slightest degree of doubt. Overwhelm them with the strength of your conviction.
3. Style is king.
The hearts and minds of readers are won, not by judicious argument, but by force of personality. You aren’t selling an idea alone. You’re selling the authority of the mind that endorses it. Don’t believe for a moment that being in the right outweighs charismatic personality.
4. Unleash your noble scorn.
Digg and Reddit are filled, not with praise for Liberal politicians, but with rabid denunciations of Conservative leadership. Prose writing is most effective when used to expose injustice and unravel misconceptions. Channel your anger and frustration into passionate writing.
Scorn is a powerful tool, but it must be used with delicacy. Avoid insulting readers by making broad denunciations that allow them to believe your anger is directed at others. Consider the statement, “The population of the United States is 300 million, mostly fools.” Anyone who reads this will likely agree, considering themselves one of the exceptions.
Passion is the one quality essential to powerful writing. Writing without passion is a sailboat without wind. Whatever you write about, there must be a passion that drives you. The passion that lights your mind on fire and compels you to expose your private thoughts to the world.
Writing with passion leaps off the page. But this sort of writing is rare because we’re afraid of our inspiration. We’re afraid to express ourselves too forcefully, to overstep the bounds of our authority and risk being wrong.
To produce great writing, you must recognize these doubts as the byproduct of innovation. The only writing that matters is writing that challenges popular opinion, writing that changes minds. If you aren’t pushing limits, you aren’t going far enough.
Embrace your passion and share it with your readers. You may offend some, and you may be proven wrong, but unless you take that chance you’ll never make an impression.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.