Produce something so inviting that readers crave it until they have devoured it

Photo from Unsplash. Edited by the author in Canva

How to attract readers? Well, you don’t have to. That’s the job of your written works, after all.

You put in hours of research, drafting, editing, and proofreading and then you are greeted with what, crickets?! That’s not how it’s supposed to be, right?

So, one thing that we can all agree upon is that we constantly need to tweak and morph our writing to create better versions. Piece after piece. Article after article. It’s an eternal process.

When I started out on Medium—which is by the way my first encounter with digital writing, in any shape or form—I was a boring young writer who was just writing to get his point across. Not bad. But it was not the best either.

After over 1.5 years of writing online, I have gathered some delicious and light-on-style writing tips to impress your readers.

Wait! Light-on-style? What does that even mean? Well, it means that you don’t have to change the way you write. That’s what many writing advice articles attempt to do.

Do this, avoid that, blah blah blah…

We are all unique and so are our styles. Instead, this article will act like a strawberry on the cake — make your cake more delicious and attractive. Let’s get started, shall we?

Don’t write to impress; write to convey

Boring? Think twice. This should be the foundation of your writing. A core value of your identity.

This simple yet effective habit can exponentially increase the quality of your writing.

In my initial writing days, I wanted to sound smart. I used uncommon words, tried to insert em-dashes even when they were not even needed and tried to top it off with hilarious formatting. I did all those subtle things, you know. So much so that they became my default and unconscious choice.

But the more I read top writers’ works, the more it became clear that it’s clarity that matters the most. They use short sentences. They embrace white spaces. They try to convey their message in the simplest possible way.

If you want to impress the readers, simply write to convey your message. Many writers impress me, and all their readers, by writing this way.

Don’t write for the readers

When everyone is telling you to write for the readers, it can cause an internal tussle and conflict between your interests and what gets more views.

Don’t people equate those two: more views with what your readers want? Because if your piece gets more views, you are apparently doing the right thing.

At its best, this can only be partially true. Here’s what you should do instead:

Separate yourself from your own writing and try to look at it with the reader’s eye.

Are those two different, you might ask? Yes, they are.

When you write just for the readers, you are compromising on some fronts. Be it in your interests or your domain expertise. But when you try to detach yourself from your writing and look at it from the reader’s POV, you have two benefits:

  • you kill your darlings better (not literally, of course.)
  • you don’t compromise while giving your readers what they want to read.

In other words, you draw a Venn diagram and try to write where your interests overlap with what your readers expect from you.

Spice your writing up. Tell your story

Every topic under the sun has already been written about. That’s news to no one.

The only way for you to stand out is to add your story to it. Humans love context. Be it an article or a love story. You wouldn’t want to only see the ending of Titanic, would you?

Then how do you think your readers would like to read an article without any spices? Being an Indian, I can tell you why India is so popular for its spices. And rightly so.

So, start adding those secret sauces — your stories, your struggles, and your successes.

Do at least one thing (if you can do both, you’re unstoppable)

Let’s cut to the chase here.

You need to either educate or entertain your readers. One of my favourite writers tweeted this once. It has stuck with me to this date.

You can clearly observe how true this is. The writers we love and admire either make us more thoughtful or make us laugh. If their writing can have a mix of both, it is like a (good) drug we can’t seem to have enough of.

If this is very clear, then question how you can do the same. Start small. Slide one joke here and a quick fact there. Those seemingly ineffective practices add up over time.

Be vulnerable

Remind them you are human, just like they are. This will make you relatable.

I personally love learning from people who are a few steps ahead of me. Most of us do. Who would want to learn from Elon Musk? You can argue it would be fun, but don’t you think he is better this way?

(A superhero one moment and the biggest villain the very next.)

What I want to say is that you should show your human side more often. When people vibe with your writing, more often than not, they come searching for your story again.

Leverage this. Don’t shy away from sharing your failures, your lows, and the times when you struggled. It will strengthen you. Not only that, both you and your readers can learn a lot from failures. Share the story.

Bonus tip: Be conversational

I added this one on the go. This past week I have been exploring a lot of AI writing tools and similar technologies like ChatGPT, NotionAI and Jasper.

Like a normal human, I got worried after observing the results. It looks so freaking identical to a human’s writing! Will we become irrelevant and lose the love of our life — our writing jobs — to robots?

Maybe. It’s highly unlikely, nevertheless. But we can definitely use this as a friendly wake-up call to differentiate ourselves as much as we can.

One thing that I noticed was that AI-generated text is not that conversational. They miss that emotional angle. Being machines, they try to stick to the facts and make them more presentable. They don’t care what you think.

But you are a human. You can. Write in a conversational tone. Empathise with how your readers will feel while reading your article. Try to initiate conversations. Ask questions. Don’t leave it one way.

This will help forge a stronger connection with your readers. Trust me, it’s invaluable.

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5+1 Seductive Tips & Habits to Supercharge Your Writing was originally published in The Writing Cooperative on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Vritant Kumar