In the past year and a half, I’ve amassed over 2 million views on my writing.
Getting into the millions was both a humbling and revealing experience. I didn’t “catch a break” and write a few viral hits. I didn’t boost pieces on Facebook either.
I practiced on a regular basis.
I’ve learned a few tricks along the way, like read what you write out loud, as it’s a great way to comb for inconsistencies and keep an honest conversational tone.
I’ve learned to kill your darlings—or, to delete sentences or paragraphs that don’t fit the rest of the piece, even if they’re masterfully written.
I’ve learned to write in public, meaning, posting content on as many platforms as possible, not for the sake of impressions but for constructive feedback.
And I’ve learned that volume wins,
Some of these things I’ve learned on my own. Others I learned from some of the best writers in the world—be it from a one-on-one workshopping session with Nicolas Cole, or from Stephen King, through his memoir On Writing.
But out of everything I’ve learned, there’s one overarching principle that every writer needs to understand:
If you want to write something that resonates, you need to get inside the mind of the reader.
This principle applies to all writers—regardless of purpose or subject matter.
Whether you’re writing a blockchain article, a productivity e-book, a sales script or a letter to your mom, the first question you need to ask yourself is, “Who is this for?”
It’s an extremely simple way to set yourself up for a fluid piece.
A lot of writers, however, don’t see the value in getting into the mind of the reader. A vast majority don’t think identifying a reader matters at all—ultimately assuming what they have to say is exactly what people want or need to hear.
And that’s a terrible way to approach any writing assignment.
Regardless of well you write, you’re hurting the overall quality of your writing if you don’t define who the reader and identify what it is they’re looking for. You’ll make assumptions based on surface-level ideas of an unspecified target audience, inherently weakening your work. And you’ll never reach your full potential as a writer.
Fortunately, there’s a really easy three-step process when it comes to getting inside the mind of the reader.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step #1: Think of the person. Give them a name, an age, and any sort of demographical-type if information relevant to the piece. Write all of it down, and be as specific as possible.
Step #2: Figure out what that person is struggling with—or, at the very least, what they want to hear. Identify those pain points and be detailed. Write down not only what those pain points are, but why they matter and the emotions they inflict on the reader.
Step #3: Build an outline considering everything you’ve identified thus far, and refer directly to the reader by given name. Organize by pain point and a brief explanation of how you’re going to solve each. Finally, illustrate how your writing is ultimately going to bring a positive emotional change to the reader.
All-in-all, it should take about 10 minutes.
Taking time to get inside the mind of the reader is a small tasks with a huge benefit. Not only does it allow for a more fluid writing process, it actually gives purpose to your writing.
Whatever it is you’re working on, be deliberate and identify exactly who you’re writing for, what they’re struggling with, how they’re feeling and outline how you plan to provide value.
That’s how you set yourself apart as a writer.