Writing to Connect

Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

Isn't it true that there are times when writing is a breeze? We sit down, put our fingers to the keyboard, and off we go. Isn't it also true that those times are all too few?

So often we struggle with inspiration. What should we write? What should happen next to that character? Where's the plot going to? You promised the reader 7 ways to improve their blog and you can only think of 5. Perhaps we can't think of what to write about at all—or perhaps we know exactly what we want to say, but the words don't come out the way we want them to.

One of the most basic, but often overlooked tips is: Write to connect.

  • Don't write to satisfy yourself.
  • Don't try to impress your family.
  • Don't try to be someone else.
Write for your readers.

To do that, you have to know who your readers are.

  • What sex?
  • What age?
  • What family situation?

Now write what they want to read.

Wait, shouldn't that be "write what they need to know?"

No. Write what they want to read. Then include information you think will help them. But if they don't want to read your book or article, guess what? They won't.

Visualise your readers as people who will really benefit from what you have to share. Give them faces. Perhaps even write to a person you know--but choose someone you know won't read your article to prevent your preaching at them! Then write in such a way that they will want to read . . . and keep on reading.

Now that you know who you're writing for, you'll find it much easier to write . . . and keep on writing.

I remember listening to a tape recording many years ago. The speaker, Mike Warnke, was sharing of his experience as a new Christian and speaker. He determined to be the very best . . . and studied the top speakers in the field.

He imitated Billy Graham as he thundered out an evangelical message. He spoke with the authority and passion of Kathryn Kuhlmann, as he preached to the sick and invited them to come forward for healing. He urged people to step out in faith in the style of Oral Roberts. Yet he had little or no response.

One day, in frustration, he asked the Lord, "Why don't I get results when I preach?"

To this, he said, the Lord replied, "I don't know. Who are you?"

We can laugh, but isn't that what we do as writers? We long for the inspirational writing ability of Karen Kingsbury, the gift of story telling of Jerry Jenkins and the creativity of J.K.Rowling. We try to use the poetic prowess of Helen Steiner Rice, the tension-creating techniques of Brandilyn Collins and the light-hearted approach of Max Lucado. And we wonder why we don't get results!

Each one of us have our own abilities and gifts. We have strengths unique to our own writing style, and we have weaknesses. When we compare ourselves to other writers, we have no hope. We can't be as good as them. Chances are we won't make the same mistakes as them either. We can't write like them. We're not them.

As you read, admire the writing style of the author, but don't try to copy it. Develop your own style.

  • Study writing techniques.
  • Edit and polish your work until it's the best you can do.
  • Look for advice, critiques, and professional input.
  • Become the best writer you are capable of being.
But always remember: There are millions of writers in the world today. There is only one you.

So sit down in front of the keyboard, put your fingers to the keyboard, and let it rip. Write what your reader wants to hear. Write to make contact.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives in South Africa with her husband Rob, a hyperactive budgie called Sparky, and an ever expanding family of tropical fish. Hundreds of her inspirational and life-enrichment articles have been published internationally. She is contributing author to nine books to date and her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer  is available now for pre-order at  Amazon.com or at Barnes & Noble (B&N.com). You can contact Shirley through her writing website, her Rise and Soar site for encouraging those on the cancer journey, or follow her on Twitter  


Magdalena Ball said...

Thanks Shirley - 'write to connect' is a good tip. Sometimes when the words won't flow, I think about writing to impact on a reader and it helps.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Good tip Shirley. When we combined writing to connect with writing from the heart- we create magic.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

I certainly related to this article Shirley and yes, had a laugh out loud moment at the story. Shall keep remembering that line. Thanks for an article that really connected to me.

Shirley Corder said...

Glad you found this helpful. Yes, Annie. I heard that story years ago, and it has stayed with me ever since!

Kathleen Moulton said...

Shirley, this is great information.

I have been learning much in the last 3 months as part of my writer's group - access to classes, articles - all kinds of invaluable tools and resources. At times it overwhelmed me because I was trying to follow everyone's advice and then I would get off track and stop writing.

At the end of the day, I have to be me. Be teachable but don't be afraid to find your own way with the uniqueness that God has given you.

Thanks! I am inspired.


Karen Cioffi said...

Shirl, great writing advice. It's essential to know your audience and as you mention give them what they want. People are more likely to buy or read about something they want, rather than what they need.

Funny analogy!

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

elysabeth said...

Congratulations, Karen. Random.org picked you as the winner on this posting. I'll send our your bookworm Monday (I think I still have your mailing address, but if not, I'll email you for it). E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery

Anonymous said...

Hi Shirley. Great information. Thank you.

Donna McDine said...


Terrific article. Your tips will certainly help me stay focused. Thank you.

All the best,

Fani Nicheva said...

Thank you, Shirley, for sharing your experience. I think that writers often write IN ORDER to find themselves. But we could never find ourselves if we constantly try to please an audience, can we? It is a fine balance between connecting and expressing your true self. True literature wasn't written based on target audience studies. But I do understand your point. Thanks again.

VS Grenier said...

Thank you for sharing your insights.

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