Writing

You Can Easily Avoid Being Just Another Boring Writer

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Photo by Woody Kelly on Unsplash

This is going to sound harsh. Most blog posts I read are boring. The writers are good, but the content is presented in a boring way.

I am no writing god, although I have learned a thing or two over the last six years from writers who are much smarter than me. When I reached a point where my writing wasn’t going anywhere, a friend, Joel Brown, told me I needed to jazz things up a little.

It’s easy to fall in love with your boring writing. It’s easy to be a boring writer and not even realize it. What you have to share is amazing. Let’s elevate your writing and make it interesting.

Drop Verbal Bombs with Subheadings

Writer, Ayodeji Awosika, reminded me of Gary Korisko’s advice on subheadings. I had completely forgotten it.

A subheading is another headline. Your subheadings matter. This is what typical self-help article subheadings look like:

Go for a walk
Meditate
Listen to podcasts
Read a book
Say I love you
Get passive income
Cliche quote
Final thought

Who’s pumped to read those subheadings? They sound obvious. Readers are skimmers. Boring subheadings just force readers to skim and then click away. It’s the reason a lot of writers have very low read times. Beef up your subheadings. Here’s a few radical examples from Gary’s lessons:

  • “Tell your mother to go to hell.”
  • “The conversation that saved my life.”
  • “What is my business for? What is my life for?”

Boom! These subheadings take your writing from boring to interesting. And readers can’t stop sharing interesting writing on social media and sending it to their friends.

Don’t give away the farm with a subheading

Gary Korisko teaches writers not to be so obvious with subheadings. Build suspense. Hint at what you might be about to say, without saying it.

Leave the juicy bits for the body of your writing. This forces readers to actually read what you wrote — and when they do, they are more likely to fall in love with your story and be curious enough to read the whole thing.

Writer, Shannon Ashley, does this with elegance. She gives you all the best parts of the story in the body of the text, not the subheading. You can’t skim her stories or you’ll miss everything and find yourself all the way back at the start again, reading every word in awe.

Cryptic subheadings give readers a migraine

You can go in the opposite direction too. Writers do this a lot with headlines. They don’t tell you what you’re about to read or why you should — the ultimate purpose of the headline.

Instead, they use cryptic titles trying to sound clever. Smart writers don’t perform well online. Resourceful writers who are willing to learn do (and who can avoid blaming, complaining, and throwing poisonous arrows at social media platforms).

Simple always beats cryptic. Say what you think without being fancy.

This headline example I saw today illustrates the point perfectly: “The start of a conversation…” You’d have to be psychic to know what an earth that article is about. You’d have to be channeling your inner monk after a green tea and a dose of magic mushrooms.

A lot of bloggers use subheads merely as a label. Labels are used to identify, not to pique interest — Gary Korisko

Nobody gets all hot and fuzzy or full of emotion by reading a label. Turn your subheadings into tiny little masterpieces.

Give your subheadings as much attention as your headline. You can write your story with boring subheadings and then always go back later and give them a spit shine, so you can bring them to life and enhance your piece.

Divide an Audience

Tell people right at the start of your story what you’re about to do when your goal is to divide people.

Here’s a example: Unprofessional writers make more money than professional writers. There are writers who want to hunt me down with a buffalo knife for that headline. It’s a strong opinion, and strong opinions are anything but boring.

What’s boring is mediocre ideas that aim to please everybody and do nothing. What’s worse is trying to be every reader’s little friend. If you write, you will upset people. Guaranteed. Go from a boring writer to one who backs themselves and dares have an opinion.

Pro tip: if you really want to push your boundaries as a writer then dare to change your opinion. Because as Niklas Goke said: “All writers are liars.” We change our opinions because they evolve through experience. I once told people to wake up at 4 AM. Now I have changed my mind. Dare to admit you were wrong or you changed your mind, then you will be interesting.

Remove Apologetic Sentences

“Sorry if I offended…”
“I think…”
“I am not sure.”

You don’t need to be sorry for writing anything. Your life will be over quicker than you know it. There isn’t time to be sorry and stop yourself from stepping on internet landmines. Say what you think. Say what you know. Publish the best version for that moment in history. It’s too late to apologize. And there is no reason to apologize. Boring writers apologize.

Your job as a writer is to type the words as they come out — and try not to filter the words too much, thus destroying them.

“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns.

The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

– Stephen King

The Trend Isn’t Your Friend

Painfully boring writers follow the trend.

Here’s the thing: the trend isn’t the real you. By following trends you end up writing the same as everybody else.

Do you think readers want to go to places like Twitter and see links to hundreds of articles saying “What I learned from 14 days publishing content and earning 3 cents,” while they drink their money coffee? Now I helped create this trend. (I’m so sorry Hemmingway. I hope you can forgive me and still buy me a chai latte in the afterlife.)

Trend followers make for the most boring writers.

Don’t Be a Copy and Paster

There’s this dude that uses the same image I use on every article of his. His content is incredible. Yet this technique makes his work less appealing. It takes two seconds to find an image. Don’t be a lazy writer and copy and paste from the same person on every article. Add 1% of your own style.

Care for the reader

Boring writing does nothing for the reader. It’s content designed to make money or help boost a writer’s ego. It’s known in some weird alien circles as ‘influencer content.’

Readers go nuts for writing that is helpful. All a reader wants is for you to care about them. If you show care for the reader then your writing becomes much more appealing. Here’s how to show care:

  • Talk to the reader like a friend.
  • Use conversational language.
  • Throw yourself under a bus for their benefit and share a difficult story or truth from your own life.
  • Hold their hand and walk them through the jungle.
  • Identify problems and then give them solutions to consider.
  • Don’t tell a reader something. Show them.

Use Formatting to Create Visual Delight

Boring writing all looks the same. You can make your writing more interesting by going wild with formatting. The trick is to use one type of formatting occasionally in a piece. Otherwise it gets tiring.

Here are your formatting options: italics, capital letters, ellipses, one exclamation mark, a few quotes, underlines from links, subheadings, an image or graph, page breaks, etc.

My favorite type of formatting is to change between long and short paragraphs. You can really take the reader on a journey when you change paragraph lengths, and even sentence lengths a lot.

Dare to Add Your Personality

Most writers leave out their personalities.

They tell someone else’s story or they don’t use language from their everyday life. Writing without your personality is dead boring. Who wants to read facts, figures, quotes, and how-to’s all day? You can do a Roz Warren and show readers who you are. You can be funny, wild, playful, serious when you need to be, and interesting as much as you want. Don’t overdo it, obviously.

Readers are dying to see your personality because whether you understand it or not, you are interesting. Everybody’s life is interesting in some bizarre way. What you think is normal or uninteresting is actually cool and worth reading about.

Break Every Writing Rule with a Smile

I have a huge secret: I purposely spell things wrong and mess up popular catchphrases or quotes. It keeps the reader engaged. They have to read over sections to figure out whether I made a mistake, have no clue what I’m doing, or whether I’m joking. It stops your writing from becoming boring and keeps readers on their toes.

Grammar rules were invented to be broken by interesting writers.

The Biggest Thing Missing in Modern-Day Writing

One word: Emotion.

People want to feel what you’re saying to be interested in your story. Too many writers make you feel nothing. You read their story and leave feeling empty. You don’t break a sweat or shed a tear.

Here are two examples of writing with emotion that will leave you speechless:

  1. “Do not Fall in Love with a Smart, Introverted Man” — Jennifer Lowe
  2. “The Last Time I Had Sex With My Wife” — Greyson Ferguson

It’s easy to hide behind a desktop computer and type words. It’s hard to sit there and share emotions you’re too afraid to admit to yourself. Or to share the emotion of people who inspire you so you can move an audience to action.

If you take away nothing else from this story then know this: if you make people feel what you’re talking about, you will become wildly successful as a writer. I am not great at it. But I’m learning.

You can go beyond being another boring writer when you master emotion.

Tim Denning
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.
1 Comment
  • katrina Dec 15,2020 at 7:49 am

    Thanks.
    You’ve given me permission to speak truth to bullshit! Love this 🙂
    Also, this is the first ever comment I have left on a blog so you are totally awesome to get my attention 🙂

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