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It's a weird fascination that everyone has when they get their hands on one...

How to write content that's hard to put down

We’re digging through the nuggets I’m learning about great writing.

This week is about the third point.

Every week, I’m going to keep this section up with links to the previous issues.

So here it is: 7 parts of great writing:

  1. Powerful hook

  2. Slippery slope formatting

  3. Focused content (you are here)

  4. Approachable delivery

  5. Reader-focused

  6. Specific writing

  7. Powerful takeaway point

BTW, if you know all these already from other sources feel free to fact-check and compare your own learnings and experiences.

I don’t have any experience...just a guy learning this and sharing what he finds.

As I stated in previous issues, I hope this series will help shorten your timeframe on getting to "Rockstar Writer” status!

I feel like this issue on focused content will be the hardest…

Image generated by Leonardo.AI by the author

Laser focus at all levels

Maybe I’m wrong about this, but since the start of this newsletter, I’ve generally tried to keep to one thing in each issue that I want to hammer home or share:

  • self-development concepts

  • writing as a foundational artform

  • steps in planning content for the year

It’s all about focused writing for one person.

If you don’t feel like I’m speaking directly to you in my writing, then forgive me.

I still have a loooong way to go, but I strive to get better at it every single day.

I envision my writing like a laser beam:

  • direct

  • precise

  • straightforward

Once upon a time, I thought of this as boring as well.

I had no vision on what it could mean to have an interested and engaged audience since technical writing had dominated my skills in this arena for years.

Ironically, technical writing lends itself quite well to focusing down on content.

Academic writing is a very different place.

When you write a white paper, you only discuss one tiny aspect that is innovative or novel in the context of the larger discipline itself.

Any deviation from the relevant topic resulted in constant back-and-forth between the editor of the publication and you…endless headaches and wasted time as being the first to make a statement on a breakthrough could mean grant money or a Nobel prize.

It also meant that you cut your discoveries down to the LPU (least publishable unit).

It was like taking a loaf of bread and smashing into croutons to sell enough for individually wrapped salads.

So that’s the extreme case of focused writing.

Don’t do that if you want more than a handful of people to stay awake long enough to read your work.

Image generated using Leomardo.AI by the author.

The color of the laser

Like lightsabers in the “Star Wars” universe, lasers come in a variety of colors that can identify their usage:

  • infrared (wavelengths longer than the eye can see)

  • extreme ultraviolet (wavelengths shorter than the eye can see)

and everything in between that we love to use from during presentations to making sure our cats get enough exercise between the naps and snacking.

I know, I’m stretching the analogy a bit thin, but bear with me here.

Focused writing also comes in many “colors” that you may associate with it.

  • the farther “red” the focus is, the more general the audience

  • the farther “violet” the focus is, the more specific the audience

Both extremes serve their purpose. For me, the former seems to be a style that’s more for mass consumption and easily understood (magazines) while the latter is more for enthusiast groups and academia (textbooks and science journals).

What I’m trying to say is:

  1. Know who you’re writing to

  2. Know what you’re writing about

  3. Know the purpose of why you’re writing

and stick to it!

Whether you write a one-page copy or an epic anthology, have a single idea for a single person to make them feel or think a specific way.

Otherwise, you’ve crafted a good hook and great formatting for nothing.

As with the previous issues, I’m simply going to point you to some materials that continue to be of inspiration and guidance to me:

Again, one of these is an affiliate (and he’s improving on 2.0 as of this writing).

It’s slowly sinking in…and there’s tubs of this goodness to get through!

Closing thoughts

You’ve reeled in a reader with a great hook and a nicely formatted piece of writing that is easy on the eyes and promises for minimal effort to consume on the first pass…this issue discussed how to deliver with focused content.

I have two laser pointers in my house that we use to entertain dogs and cats alike.

However, I have two young children as well, so we keep them hidden and use them when they aren’t paying too much attention (they’ll put their eyes out).

As always, I’m thankful that you continue to read these issues week after week! I hope you get something out of these as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!


P.S. “Night Writer it is…and I’m in the process of putting together some background and a slogan like “navigating by starlight” with a hub and five spokes for the helm of a ship or something to represent my values.