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Unless You Write for Your Health, Don't Commit This One...

The third writing sin in this series

Losing Your Audience…

Welcome to the third issue of the series!

Cliques exist in the writing world as well.

It’s called technical writing.

It’s where I spent a third of my life up to the point that I graduated from university.

  • third person

  • passive voice

  • jargon everywhere

I spent years reading papers in chemistry journals, electrical engineering journals, computer architecture journals…

I could barely stay awake long enough to even get through two pages of a ten-pager.

While I understand why it had to be written this way, there isn’t a single paper today that I can share with any depth or detail…

Except mine of course.

This is wrath…the third writing sin…being too technical and for the wrong audience.

In the writing craft, you decide who you are speaking to and go from there.

The high-brow piece: putting them to sleep

I spent years honing the art of sterile writing.

It’s not about the author. The glory is in the discovery and the information transfer.

I wrote and edited technical writing that was designed to disseminate information so that peers could replicate my results and confirm my findings.

Translation: the stuff I wrote was basically a list of instructions so that anyone with the money and the means could copy my process and get the same outcome.

You know what’s funny? I think there are courses out there that claim to do the same thing when it comes to making money.

While the possibility of it happening in the time frame that some claim, it requires a heck of a lot more factors that are not directly in your control to occur.

The scientific method only requires that physics operates consistently everywhere to guarantee the same outcome (if you’ve read or seen “The Three Body Problem”, then you know this seemingly wasn’t the case).

Anyway, that style of writing didn’t require any kind of copy or convincing the reader to continue. I think that would have come in the grant or proposal writing section of my career if I had chosen to continue down the path of academia as a tenure-track professor (which lasted all of two years, but that’s another story for another time).

By the time I finished my program, I had produced a 500-page book that proved I had done something no one on the planet had done up to that moment.

And by the way I wrote it, I’m pretty sure it’s going to remain that way.

Only a tiny portion of the eight billion people alive right now will ever read it, much less find it useful for them.

I stuffed it full of technical terms, step-by-step procedures, and dozens of pages of computer programs to tinker with for that lucky kid who’s professor decides to use my work as a template.

If I had written that book for a more general audience…well I wouldn’t have.

Write for accessibility

If you’re here reading this very issue of this very newsletter, then it’s because I said something or wrote something that resonated with you and made you sign up to it (thank you…really).

It’s taken me a good portion of the past fifteen years since leaving the ivory tower to realize that my lobotomized writing style wasn’t going to reach anyone beyond those hallowed halls.

I strive to share my thoughts and ideas in exactly the way that I would share them if we were hanging out together somewhere.

If you want to reach your audience where they’re at, then do it as a friend.

  • Don’t talk down to them.

  • Don’t assume too much about them.

  • Above all else, don’t insult your reader’s intelligence.

If they feel like they need security clearance to understand what you’re talking about, then you’ve lost them (hopefully not forever).

The best way to avoid this is to know who you are writing to.

For me, it’s my wife and my two boys.

  • It’s for the parents who have a 9-5 career but want to leave something for their children to know them better as people someday.

  • It’s for those want to further themselves through creating content, growing an audience, and sharing their thoughts and ideas.

  • It’s for the self-mastery junkies who want a perspective on their own self awareness and learning styles.

I’ve come a long way since the beginning of writing this newsletter.

Forgive me for my blunders. I’m still figuring out where I’m going with it!

What’s next?

Next week, I’ll share one of the most terrible sins that every single content creator has committed and continues to commit.

Many brilliant and talented writers continue to be virtually invisible because of it.

Look for it in the next week’s issue.

P.S. I took my kids to a water park today.

No pictures. No video. No notes.

Not a single moment captured through my phone.

Maximum presence is achieved through your own five senses.

Some things just don’t need to be frozen in carbonite for everyone to see.