The desire to expose ourselves is a natural urge.
There is not one amongst us who as a toddler did not smile at the joyful freedom that comes from be-bopping around in our birthday suit.
But then we start to grow up and along with that comes the feeling that society is more comfortable if we keep our clothes on. So, we learn to cover our physical naked self with striped t-shirts and Bermuda shorts and after we’ve done this long enough we start to feel uncomfortable going without our “covers.”
And about the same time we’re learning the hard truth that the people around us are not quite as joyful at our nakedness as we are, we are also learning that neither are they happy with our emotional truth – they don’t like it when we speak our naked truth every time it pops into our mind:
“Oh my god that lady is fat.”
“You’re so stupid.”
“Stop talking. You’re boring me.”
Right? Sure, as long as we’re speaking about naked truths here we should all just admit right now that we still think these things, we’ve just learned to edit ourselves before it comes out of our mouths (well, at least most of us have). So rather than the above sentences we say,
“I love your hat!”
“You make a good point.”
“Wow, I never thought of it that way.”
And now, we’re all nice and civil and grown up and one big happy family. Great, right?
Sure, if you want to be a mediocre writer.
But if you want to be a powerful writer the very thing that would make your writing rock and stand heads above other writing, is hidden from you, buried under all those years of “covers.”
Writing that sings, that makes us weep or laugh or pokes our heart or makes us ache or just plain pisses us off, comes from the naked parts.
Just writing words is not hard, but to create impactful, change the world words that truly touch your reader, as the saying goes, is a lot like opening a vein.
Below you will find 3 Steps to learn just how to not only open that vein of yours (that is nicely covered by your sleeve) but to proudly leave those blood stains right there on the page.
3 Steps to Taking it all Off
Step 1. How to Fake It
(Sorry ladies, you don’t get the corner on faking it.)
Writers are also readers. So as you read things, pay close attention to what moves you in some way. Pick up or search something you want to read right now and highlight or write down a phrase that moves you in some way.
Now take that phrase and substitute your nouns verbs and adjectives for those in the phrase. For it to really work what you write has to be true (in other words, heartfelt) or it won’t be effective. When you do this enough times you’ll get really good at faking it and then at some point you’ll make the crossover to not needing that kickstart.
A big part of this is practice. As a child you had to learn, through repetition, to stop exposing your emotions so truthfully. Now, you are just reversing the process. Somewhere inside of you is that small innocent child who knows the naked truth and is dying to write it
From here on out, when you read, pay attention to phrases that trigger you. You can even keep a handy dandy file of these, then, when your writing needs some instant emotion if you need a kickstart, pull out your handy-dandy phrases, put in your own words (so what you write is absolutely true) in the same pattern as the phrase that moved you and there you go.
Step 2. Have the Guts to say what you really Think
Truly powerful writing makes a statement.
If you don’t take a stance your writing will be wishy-washy shit.
Note: that there was taking a stance – it brings out emotions in the reader, as in, did you feel anything when you read that? Defensive? Angry? Self righteous?
Step 3. Tap into the Power of Your Naked Emotions – a Writing Activity
Whether you’re currently writing a blog post or a novel, or some marketing copy, take a few moments now to do this simple writing activity.
- Consider the topic you are currently writing about. Now ask yourself how you feel about the topic or some aspect of the topic (and if you feel nothing pick another topic because if you don’t feel it won’t be good).
- Don’t dismiss how you feel (sorry to all you guys but since we just taught you how to fake it you might as well learn about those darn emotions too).
- As you think about your topic can you pinpoint just what aspect makes you feel that way? Is it the entire subject matter? Or some sliver within that gets your juices flowing?
- What image comes to mind that is related to that emotion?
- Focus on that image and now write a sentence or two that translates that image into words.
And just in case your deep naked self is too covered up for you to even do the above activity, here is a gentle reminder of our basic emotions (from The Copywriting Lesson Every Writer Needs to Succeed):
If you can bring an aspect of even one of those emotions into what you write, your readers will feel that too and that makes for powerful writing.