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The Comfortable Approach to Writing Online Is Killing Your Writing Career

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Writing

There’s a comfort crisis in the writing world.

It’s quietly eating away at the potential of many writers who could one day do this for a career and maybe even write a New York Times Bestselling book. Let me explain so you don’t become trapped.

The comfortable (default) path to writing online

As someone who has coached thousands of writers, I’ve seen this pattern.

Comfortable writers write what they want to write. They tell stories they want to tell without a thought for whether it has any relevance to others.

They choose ultra-narrow topics 99.9% of people don’t care for, because they refuse to broaden their interests or “go mainstream.”

They muzzle their true thoughts because they don’t want to trigger or spark rage in anyone. They’re afraid to feel, afraid to bleed on the page out of fear of how it could affect their social status in society.

It’s pathetic.

They’re afraid to persuade too. “That’s salesy.” So they use lukewarm words and don’t pick a side of an argument. They often don’t chat with other writers either, so they exist in a bubble.

Over time this disconnects them from the market. No one knows what they’re trying to do or say. Then, even worse, they launch a paid newsletter with no traction, zero data to guide them and just hope.

They’re guided by some woo-woo “The universe told me I’m a writer and if I just write long enough people will see.” No they won’t.

This comfortable approach leads nowhere.

Here are four uncomfortable things to focus on that can skyrocket your writing results and destroy writer-romanticism.

1. The most underrated writer technique

It’s your writer’s voice.

With the AI overlords hot on the tail of writers, unless we start to consciously craft our writer’s voice and lean into the conversational nature of writing, we risk being replaced by content writer robots.

It’s uncomfortable to use your real voice. It breaks grammar rules and makes you use words that may be unique to your country’s culture. Good.

There are too many copycat writer voices that sound like Wikipedia. Readers don’t want facts or stories. They want to hear your view of the world in your voice. That’s what the majority of writers don’t do.

Hone your writer’s voice to grow your audience faster.

2. The clickbait gods are coming for you

Ever since Youtube made the word clickbait go mainstream it’s screwed up writers’ brains. Our fear is our headline will be called clickbait and we’ll be sent to writers’ solitary confinement for eternity.

It doesn’t work like that.

There is no official clickbait supreme court. A headline may deliver for some people and leave others confused and abused. That’s okay.

Writing is a subjective art form. It isn’t either 100% clickbait or not. So stop trying to impress the literary professors, critics, and trolls.

Write your headline the way you want. And learn to add at least one benefit to the headline that tells people why they should read. Why you? That’s what you gotta ask yourself every time you write the title of a story.

Why do people care? Why should we spend our lunch break on this?

If you don’t know the answer then you’re delusional, sorry. Humans need motivation to take action. Your “On Life” headline isn’t making anyone horny or inspiring them to read ya stuff.

3. Hookers learn to hook

Good writers are hookers (not like that).

They hook you into the story any way they can. Hooks are different from headlines because platforms, like Elon’s birdy app, allow more space to convey the story or thought you’re about to tell.

A tweet thread can have 5–6 lines in the title. This gives time to name your content and add one carefully placed cliffhanger — a sentence that hints at action, emotion, or abuse, and creates an open loop in your brain.

If you can get people into your story, then you have half a chance to keep them immersed in the events or plots, and hold their hand until the end. There’s nothing sleazy about this.

Every successful piece of writing has used this technique. The challenge is we often don’t realize it. Great hooks are subliminal — they happen without us knowing we’ve been hooked.

It’s uncomfortable to write a hook.

Why? The first hook for a piece of content you write will suck. Hooks take lots of editing and rewrites. For writers like me, we spend half of our writing time just on the hook.

Once the hook is right then everything else flows. If it’s wrong then the story goes nowhere and the time investment is wasted.

A good hook gives you clarity on what you’re about to write. And clarity is power in the writing world. Obsess over hooks.

4. Cut these bloody bastards in half

Comfortable writers spew out long intros.

They write back-to-back disclaimers, credibility statements, and long setups that bore readers to death. By the time their intro is written it’s 1000 words. That’s how their english professor taught them to write.

A long intro feels good for the writer. We feel like we’ve given all the background and are now ready to write. And that’s why the famous advice of edit out most of your intro is excellent advice.

The intro isn’t for the writer, it’s for the reader. Readers don’t want a massive setup. They want you to jump into the action and get the story started. There’s time to add descriptive details later in the story.

The trouble with intros is they carry a massive cognitive load.

When we see a long intro it destroys our willpower. We’re not sure how we’ll make it through, given all the online content and books there are to read. So we give up … or better yet, we skim.

Get uncomfortable and write shorter intros.

Final Thought

Traditional writing is dead.

The internet has morphed writing into a new art form. The trouble is both great writing and average writing is just words on a page. So comfortable writers assume if it looks like writing then it is writing.

But just because you can talk doesn’t make you a public speaker worthy of a $10,000 an hour fee.

It’s time to cut the crap and face these uncomfortable truths of the new writing world. When you do, income goes up.

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