The Reason We Write
Since the dawn of the Internet, I have been keenly aware that writing well in the digital age requires us to evolve from the skills we first learned with a pen and paper. The freedom to share our ideas with the world, to write what we think and believe is not one to take lightly. Indeed, it is a human right.
Until the Internet era, only a small percent of selected individuals were given the means and platforms to express themselves freely to a large audience. It is only in more recent times that these platforms extended beyond our local community to a global audience. With this great privilege comes great responsibility.
The writers who I admire most are those that value and honor their readers best. These “gifted” writers understand that readers, not content, will make them successful. Writers need readers, and readers value writers to respect and appreciate them.
My Choose2Matter co-founder, Mark Moran, one of the best writers, once explained it this way: “The “old school” ways of communicating [no longer] cut it; I’ve mastered those, and yet now spend each day re-learning how to communicate effectively in this new world order.”
With this great privilege comes great responsibility.
It is exciting to have this conversation with young writers. Students are surprised and excited to know that writers think about them (the reader) when they are making important writing decisions. Together we learn that writers who think about their readers often share “gifts” to let the reader know they care about them.
These “Reader Gifts” come in many forms, verbally and visually. Each and every one serves a purpose, but all in some way let the reader know they are on the writer’s mind.
These “gifted writers” consider the following every time we write:
1. Our Words
Writers choose their words carefully. We think about the language we use, its style and tone, and match it to the voices and background of our readers. Our words can unwrap meaning instantaneously or package it up tight, leaving the reader struggling to get inside our heads. Words matter!
2. The Conversation
All too often, we think of writing as a solitary act; of putting pen to paper, or key to screen. Good writing is about the conversation our words ignite in the reader. We acknowledge and honor the presence of our readers’ voices when we ask questions, repeat important points, pause, or hyperlink to carry the dialogue outward. In these ways, we involve the readers by asking – what are you thinking?
3. The Big Ideas
We can emphasize big ideas in our writing by seeking to write with clarity and purpose, but we really unveil important meaning to our readers when we emphasize critical points in the following ways:
- Charts & Graphs
- Block Quotes
- Related Links
- Bold Text (think phrases more so than keywords)
These “gifted” writers understand that readers, not content, will make them successful. Writers need readers, and readers value writers to respect and appreciate them.
4. Always Thinking About the Reader
Great writers are great because they write with the reader in mind. They think about them, hear them, picture their situation, and imagine their concerns. It is only when we seek to know and understand our readers that we will be able to give them what they’re looking for.
This conversation made me think about you. I am so blessed to have this space and so honored you have taken your time to share in the conversation with me. You matter to me, and I have become a more “gifted” writer because of my relationship with you.
I hear your voices in my head, I feel your smiles, I share your thoughts. You are with me in this journey – you make me better, and I am so very thankful for this amazing conversation.
Readers, you are my gift!
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Image credit: file404 / 123RF Stock Photo