Make the reader feel what you’re saying. This is the missing ingredient to most of what I read online.
I spent the morning reading dry, generic, lifeless stories. There were two stories that stopped me in my tracks, though.
One from Nicolas Cole contained this first paragraph:
I left a voicemail saying, “Hey so you haven’t returned any of my calls and that doesn’t make me feel very good about giving you all my money, so if you could please give me a call back today that would be great. Thanks.”
I read that paragraph and could feel the pain of his deception.
Admitting, as a business owner, that he got swindled out of a lot of money is a bold move. His vulnerability makes you want to read. He gets you from the first line with vulnerability because you feel his words rather than read them.
If that wasn’t enough, I read a story from Greyson Ferguson about the last time he had sex with his wife before they split up and left each other for good. I’ve read many divorce stories and tales of love. This one had me overwhelmed by emotion.
Read this and see the power of vulnerability:
I felt her heartbeat through my chest as it told my own heart goodbye… Lips pressed to necks and thighs and stomachs. Tears slid from eyes. We made love one final time. It was a final goodbye. A goodbye to our relationship. A goodbye to our plans and our future.
She slipped out of the bed as quickly and as quietly as she came, leaving me with the scent of her skin after a shower… I didn’t wash the sheets for a long time. I didn’t want to lose that smell. I wasn’t ready for that.
You have to read those words several times. Even if you have never been divorced you can feel Greyson. Everything about what he shared was deeply personal. It came from a place of healing, and the radical idea that his misfortune could help a broken relationship before it becomes too late.
Nicolas Cole says “When you make something that reveals some sort of human truth, and is executed in a way where the person on the other side of the screen can feel it, it goes viral.” I couldn’t agree more.
As a writer for the last six years, who has become obsessed with vulnerability as a way to tell stories and move people to action, it’s what counts. Make me emotional as a writer and I’ll repay you with my soul.
People ask me all the time what made my writing reach over 100M+ people across the globe. It’s definitely not my writing or money, or my freaking career in banking — and the subsequent ability to transcribe complex financial topics into easy, readable stories a teenager could understand.
Readers have bothered to keep reading my work because they feel what I’m saying through vulnerability. This isn’t a unique superpower. Any writer can use vulnerability. But many writers don’t. Why is that?
It’s because sharing the emotion of your story — that might make you look weird, obscure, uncool or seen — scares the crap out of writers.
Being seen for who you are as a writer is one of the best things you can do.
Because to be seen for anything other than who you are will only cause your writing success over time to self-destruct. Not being your true self, in a way, is a ticking time bomb.
I’ve studied many world-class writers over the years — Tim Ferriss, Neil Gaiman, Derek Sivers, James Altucher and lesser-known writers like Shannon Ashley, Michael Thompson and Dan Moore. All of them, often by accident, are utilizing the power of vulnerability.
Anybody can suggest you lose weight, work on yourself, meditate, go for walks, take cold showers, and eat healthy. But all of it is meaningless without the writer using vulnerability to make you believe.
Pretending your shit doesn’t stink is the worse writing strategy I can think of, because people know it isn’t true and often don’t even know why they think that.
Stories come to life with vulnerability. They resonate differently.
Level-Up Your Vulnerability with Passion
Vulnerability mixed with passion is even more powerful.
Passion translates to enthusiasm for the reader’s problem and why you do what you do. A lot of writing reads as though it’s a means to an end — like someone wrote the story because they could earn money or gain followers by doing so, instead of writing the story as a way to be helpful.
You have to care about what you’re writing; otherwise what’s the point of writing it?
You may as well copy and transcribe lines out of a book you didn’t write. Both put a tick in the box for writing. Only the first option of caring for the reader makes any sense. Spend your time writing stories and covering topics you’re passionate about. Don’t worry about how big the audience is for your niche.
Good, helpful writing in a particular niche is universally applicable to a large audience — because it’s so rare.
I’m Begging You to Try This
Please stop writing dry, lifeless, generic stories that don’t get read. Put a bit of yourself in the story by being vulnerable enough to share something from your life that you perhaps wouldn’t normally.
Using vulnerability is a risk. And when you take risks you leave your comfort-zone and enter a whole new dimension of writing.
Uncomfortable writers get all the readers.
If you feel bored, or burned out, or like you’re simply writing to make money and pay bills then it’s time for you to experiment more with vulnerability.
Could you dare tell us a story you’ve kept secret or a weakness you’ve hidden your entire life so we may be helped in the process?
Learn to write with vulnerability and nobody will be able to stop your writing reaching millions of readers.
Tim is a thought leader in the personal development, entrepreneur and startup fields.
Outside of blogging, Tim works for a large organisation helping fast moving technology companies come to Australia as well as helping Australian tech companies go to the world.