There’s good writing and then there’s great writing.
Good writing is grammatically correct, informative … meets the readers’ expectations.
Great writing is none of that. Great writing enthralls readers who can’t stop reading. It can contain bad grammar. It may lack information. But readers don’t care because it’s interesting, gripping, fascinating, funny, etc.
How do you go from good to great?
Let your guard down.
Be yourself or better yet, take on a persona and let ‘er rip.
When I started letting my guard down with emails and various articles, it made all the difference in the world.
My best in-house writer is exceptional at this. Her articles ooze her (or her persona). She can write an article about a blender, and while it’s informative enough, what really makes it shine is the personality.
It’s powerful stuff.
Back in college, I needed a job. I decided waiting tables would be good because it paid well with tips.
The problem was the only restaurant experience I had was washing dishes in high school.
Good restaurants only hire folks with serving experience. How do you solve that catch 22?
I applied at a hotel restaurant that wasn’t all that busy.
They were desperate so they hired me.
After a couple of days of training, it was sink or swim.
I’m not much of a talker.
I bungled everything.
I really wanted to make a go of it because I needed the money and I didn’t mind the work. I actually liked the excitement of waiting tables.
Fortunately, I had a great trainer/mentor. We became friends.
He told me that serving tables well was a performance.
While I wasn’t a thespian, I gave it a shot.
I created a more talkative version of myself.
I treated serving tables as a performance.
I yammered on about this and that without wasting guests’ time.
I tried little jokes; kept the ones that got chuckles.
I started talking up appetizers, booze and desserts.
As a result I started selling way more food and booze. I was blown away. This stuff worked.
Bigger sales meant bigger tips. Not only were the total amounts higher, but people enjoyed my service. Where I used to get the obligatory 15% on $100, I was getting 20% on $150.
I put in my 6 months at the hotel and then applied to a busy restaurant where I could make way more money.
They hired me.
I went into character and sold like a maniac.
I won wine selling contests routinely despite being up against experienced servers.
We competed. We were all friends.
It was great fun.
I took the same approach to writing better.
Was I the best server ever?
No, not even close. But I was good. I had no intention to make a career of it.
Am I the best writer ever?
Again, not even close.
But I’m better than I was 10 years ago.
I went from penning boring information to jazzing it up with personality.
This email could have been some long-winded, boring article on the nuts and bolts of writing that you could read anywhere.
I don’t want to write that.
I know you don’t want to read that.
The magic isn’t in the mechanics of writing.
The magic is in the personality of the writing.
Take on a character and spill that character on paper.
You can be whoever you want to be.
Have fun with it.
Just like I could transform myself into a charismatic server, I can be an irreverent, but personable writer.
Not all emails and articles are winners. That’s okay. Enough of them are decent.
I have plenty of emails and articles that are false starts. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to make them work.
But I’m never short on topics because I let my guard down and get into character. Ideas just come to me. This is the fifth email I’ve written today.
I could keep going all night.
But it’s time to revert to boring old me and relax with the fam.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.