If it feels like you’re exposed to an incredible amount of content on a daily basis, the good news is that your instincts are spot on.
According to one recent study, the average person is exposed to about 5,000 pieces of content per day – and that’s just as far as advertising is concerned. When you also bring in articles, blog posts, white papers and other formats, that number balloons exponentially.
Some of it, naturally, is terrible. But a lot of the articles you choose to spend time reading every day are good. A lot of them are probably even great.
But how many of them stick with you?
In an era where we spend so much of our time glued to the Internet, “great writing” is actually a lot more common than people realize. Every morning, people all over the world wake up and pull out all the stops, follow all the rules and type until their fingers hurt to bring you the highest quality content they can.
But how much of that content sticks with you?
How much of it buries into your head in a way that has you thinking about it tomorrow, or next week, or a month from now? How many of those “high quality” articles do you suddenly find yourself thinking about out of the blue, oftentimes for reasons you can’t quite explain?
Probably not very many.
“Great writing” is always one of the bars that we’re trying to clear as content creators. Anything less would be woefully inadequate. But truth be told, there’s another bar – a higher bar – that should also be in your sights. One that it might not be possible to hit every single time, but you should still try for anyway.
It’s a bar that acknowledges the simple fact that the job we wake up every morning to do isn’t just to “write” in the most literal sense. It’s to resonate with as many people as we can. That, of course, requires you to keep a few key things in mind.
“Why the World Needs What Now?”
Content that truly, deeply resonates with an audience is more than just great in a rigid, structural sense.
The pieces that resonate are emotional. The writer isn’t afraid to both tackle the topic at hand and display a bit of his or her own core at the same time. These pieces are emotional – not just in terms of the fact that you have a clear passion for the subject, but also in as much that people can feel that you care about the words that you’re writing.
To get to that place, you also have to be willing to offend people to a certain extent. Not in a personal kind way, but more in a way that risks putting people off. Some readers are going to think “well I don’t agree with this at all and this person don’t know what they’re talking about”, or worse: “… this is weird, why does this person care about this so much? Don’t they have something better to do?”
Rest assured, that is exactly the position you want to be in.
If you’re willing to be brave, honest, raw and emotional, you’re naturally going to put certain readers off. They’re not going to understand. They won’t “get it.” That’s okay. Because the ones that do, really do – and you’ll draw them in even closer because of it.
Not everyone is going to fit inside the box you’re creating. That’s okay. Don’t be afraid of it – embrace it.
Great Writing Write Here
To get an example of this idea in action, look no farther than this Film School Rejects piece from 2013 called “Why the World Needs ‘Superman Returns.'” As the name suggests, it’s a deconstruction of the much maligned sequel/reboot “Superman Returns” from 2006 that many people to this day see as a misstep in a once-beloved franchise.
It was supposed to break box office records, but it didn’t. It was supposed to spawn a legion of sequels, but they never materialized. It wasn’t particularly well reviewed, fans could more or less “take it or leave it” and the franchise has long since been rebooted.
And yet, seven years later, this writer devoted 2600 words to why everyone got it wrong.
Again: this is a long-form piece that is in defense of a movie that came out during George W. Bush’s second term that most people don’t even remember exists.
But that wasn’t about to stop the writer.
Whether you like “Superman Returns”, or whether you care about comic book films at all, doesn’t actually matter. This writer was willing to go the distance for something he believes in so deeply that a little bit of that can’t help but rub off on you. He didn’t write the piece because he cared what you thought. He wanted you to know what he thinks. Those that agreed with him understand why that’s so important.
It’s honest. It’s emotional. It’s… a little bit insane, given the subject matter. But it’s also type of piece that sticks with you for years after the fact.
That’s the goal we need to work towards every time we’re given the opportunity to do so.
“Leave It All on the Stage”
Every piece of content that you create isn’t destined to resonate with a larger audience. When you open up that instruction manual to put together the new desk that you just bought, the writing isn’t going to be so beautiful that it brings a tear to your eye. That’s okay. It’s not supposed to be.
However, sometimes you will have that opportunity… and that’s when you have to strike while the iron is hot.
The late, great Garry Shandling used to have a saying: “leave it all on stage.” Whenever he’d get up to do another set, be it in a small comedy club or on “The Tonight Show,” he held nothing back. He put it all on the line, because he didn’t want to get off stage and feel like he could have given more.
Every time you start a new piece, that’s what you should be working towards. Leave it all on stage. It’s not going to happen automatically. It’s something you have to build to. But once you get to that point, you’ll be more than just another “great writer.”
You’ll be someone who resonates with people in a way they won’t soon forget.
Great writing, like the examples shared here, is within your reach. Download the WriterAccess Pricing Guide for help scoping your content needs and budget, and talk to us for details and to get started today!
Stephen L earned his Bachelor of Arts in Film and Video Production at the University Of Toledo College Of Performing Arts in Toledo, Ohio. In addition, he also worked for a big box electronic retailer for three years specializing in high definition audio and video equipment as well as computers and software. He has created almost ten thousand pieces of SEO-driven content for various online clients on topics ranging from the entertainment industry, electronics, computer operating systems and general technology.