A short list of tips and one trick
I've recently recognized that I am the audience for most of the things I write, or, in a less convoluted way, I mainly write for myself.
Consider that, if you write in such a way, you will naturally make many assumptions. Those assumptions will (most of the time) be useful to deliver the correct message, because … well … you are the recipient of the message!
Unless … you write for others.
Then, you start to see the cracks on the wall very soon (and hopefully, you don't have the ugly experience of seeing the wall collapse in front of you).
Why do they get offended when I am joking?
Well, because, guess what, it wasn't funny!
(Jokes are an infinite source of misunderstandings due to differences in personality, belief systems and cultural background. If you have been in a multicultural environment (and you have, because you spend a lot of time on the Internet), you know what I'm
talking writing about.)
Another common (and terrible) mistake I make is not providing a conclusion. I know it sounds like the most basic thing in the world when you are writing (introduction, body, and conclusion). But, see. I use writing to understand complexity, so, I literally vomit everything from my brain on paper (physical or digital) and then try to make sense of it. That's how I do it. The end result looks grotesque. There is no beginning and there is no end. It is more like a scan of the mess in my brain.
But you should not do that when someone else will read it. You cannot provide a text with no conclusion to someone else, and then expect she does not draw her own conclusions. It is not her fault, it is yours.
You should not share vomited texts with someone else, especially when the other end is someone you care about a lot and the message being delivered is an important one. My normal self knows that. But the dysfunctional, sleep-deprived and utterly stupid version of me, still forgets it.
I've learnt the hard way.
In conclusion: when writing for someone else, take care of the assumptions you made and provide a conclusion.
Then, when you realize that “writing for yourself” ain't gonna work if someone else reads, you start to move in the opposite direction. You start to over-explain yourself, avoid jokes, write taking everyone else (who?, you, and you and ... you as well?) into account, and so on.
You end up writing in such a generic way trying to please everyone that the result is colorless, tasteless, odorless, extremely “polished” AI-generated-like text.
A text that no humans like.
And here is a list of tips I've found helpful to do so (do not consider it an advice):
- Find a truthful reason to write. Do not recycle anyone else's reason.
- Do not take anyone else advice regarding writing at face value, including this one (which I already said, this is not an advice, but just in case you missed it).
- Write for yourself and people like you. Otherwise, it will be extremely difficult to identify and then remove all the assumptions that might create confusion.
- Accept the fact that you will never find the perfect balance between for me and for you in your writings. It is okay to make tweaks here and there as long as you keep writing.
- Write having someone specific in your mind. If you're someone like me, that someone will be your future self for a long (long, long) time.
If you share your writings publicly, one day, some other specific human being will read what you write, and maybe, just maybe, something will click.
If you are lucky, she will let you know she read your stuff. If that happens, be grateful.
Then draft a mental model of that person and seasoned it with the (much or little) gratefulness you feel. How accurate that model is depends on how much that person shared with you.
Now, the “someone specific” list contains someone else besides you(!)
N.B. Do not fear people in your list stop reading to you, that will inevitably happen.
Here is the trick.
When you write, keep them in your mind and imagine that they will read what you're writing—even if they won't.
That's the trick.
And it is not a lie. I think that if someone reading your texts inspired you in one way or another, you can still use that as your muse.
If you write in such a way, eventually, more people will feel attracted to what you produce.
Or that's my hypothesis, it is not like a lot of people read this blog.
Okay, now I have to leave because it is sunny outside and I really need some more vitamin D.
P.S.1. I chose the pronoun 'her', feel free to use your preferred pronoun.
P.S.2. None of the ideas in this post are originally mine, I just grabbed them from other people.