As we all know, the online business world is a busy place, and it can get a little saturated. And while social media, PR, marketing and SEO can make you visible, it’s the quality of your content that keeps people coming back. Greta Solomon explores ways to write from the heart and connect with your readers in the process.
Does the writing on your blog, and in your marketing materials, truly represent you and your brand/business? If no, now is the ideal time for re-thinking how and what you write. If yes, then you’re ideally placed to deeper your connection with your readers and followers.
In the past, how guides, actionable tips, blueprints and prescriptions for ‘success’ were ideal ways to keep people engaged. Of course, these still have value. But there’s been a shift now, and people want more authentic storytelling and sharing. They want to be inspired by you and your experiences.
I believe that the start of 2017 marked a new world shift into the ‘age of authenticity’. People are becoming more concerned with things that are real, true and soulful. And to satisfy that need we have to be able to write from the heart.
Navigating the communication pyramid
The communication pyramid is a handy tool I created to help you to visualise the different layers of self-expression that you can access.
At the top, we have the mind – the place where most of us write from. When you write from the mind, the writing is often dull, formulaic and rule-based. It cannot inspire or move anyone to do anything – least of all yourself.
Second down, we have the body. This level is useful and is the zone of practical writing techniques that you may have learned in a how-to course, or while reading a how-to article on the internet.
The heart is the way you express yourself. It’s about your choice of words, your point of view, and the stories you choose to tell. It’s about using your life and experiences to teach and share. Your stories don’t have to be serious – they just need to authentically share a slice of your life. For instance, one of my favourite article openings was when I began with:
“A few years ago, I went out for dinner with a dear friend of mine, who’s a mum of two young boys. Our plates had arrived and she proceeded to cut her entire meal into bite-sized pieces. Then she looked up at me mortified, and said: “Oh my god, I can’t believe I’ve just done that. I’m so used to cutting up food for the kids.”
I wanted to illustrate that new mums need a creative outlet in their lives and starting with a story put the piece into context straight away. You can start with a story, or a description, or a fact, or a question and mix-and-match so that you have an interesting, heart-felt opening and ending.
The soul is deeper still and is about your core beliefs. Ask yourself: ‘Why am I writing what I’m writing? What’s my purpose? What makes my heart sing? What does this work really mean to me?’
Finally, at the bottom, there is the voice. A strong voice means you can tell who has written a piece of work without being told. It’s a unique style and way of expressing yourself and all your favourite writers and bloggers have it.
Every writer wants to find their voice. But you can’t really find it. As you go down the layers of the communication pyramid, you uncover it. It’s the sum-total of the mind, body, heart and soul.
To get to the heart – you need to get out of the mind. I have LOTS of writing techniques for doing so that I teach in my workshops. However, a quick way to access your heart energy is to get into your body. Sweat. Move. Feel. Do whatever you can to be in your body before and during your writing time. We may have been taught at school that writing is all about sitting quietly at a desk. But that feels constricted, and can be a fast-track to getting blocked, or simply not being able to produce your best work.
Finally, always put your readers centre stage. What do they need, want and desire from you? And what do you want them to do, say, feel and think after they’ve read your writing. Write for your ‘one ideal reader’ and he or she will multiply. You may even get to the stage where they tell you that it’s as though you know what they’re thinking and feeling. That’s when you know you’ve truly connected with your business writing – and are writing from the heart.
Greta Solomon is an author, creative writing coach, business writing trainer and former journalist for British newspapers and magazines. She is the author of Just Write It! How to Develop Top-Class University Writing Skills (McGraw-Hill, 2013) and the forthcoming book Heart, Soul & Sass: Write Your Way to a Fully-Expressed Life (out in late 2018). Greta lives in South West London with her husband and daughter. She runs creative writing workshops for bloggers and the business world, and coaches people to bring their own self-help, how-to and inspirational books to life. Visit www.gretasolomon.com/thejoylist to download The Joy List: Five Days of Writing for Joy and join Greta’s online community.