And by Oz, I don’t mean Australia.
To craft engaging content, a trip to Oz is just the ticket, because you’ll need all the heart and courage you can find…and a dose of brains won’t hurt either.
For writers, the journey to figure out how to craft engaging content is just as tricky as falling out of a tornado and landing in Oz.
A simple formula I use for writing more engaging content parallels Dorothy’s memorable trip down the Yellow Brick Road. Want to join me?
Who knows? Maybe a trip to seek the “Great and Powerful Oz” will help you discover helpful answers for crafting your engaging content, too.
Let’s look for some writing lessons and see what a little tromp down the yellow brick route reveals.
Oh, and keep an eye out for flying monkeys along the way. Just saying.
Start at the Heart
Just like that Tin Man, you’re looking for a heart in your writing and, like him, without it, you are just hollow.
You need to get to the heart of your purpose.
You need to feel and understand the heartbeat of the project/company/product.
And you need to find, as precisely as Cupid’s arrow, the heart of your audience.
The hollowness in the Tin Man as he knocks and clanks his way around Oz makes you sad—you want the silver guy to get his beloved heart.
Without heart, your writing is sad, too. And mechanical. And it sounds like something you have already seen or heard. Dry. Scholastic. Boring. Clunky.
As the tale goes on, you find, the Tin Man’s heart is a bigger heart than any! So, oops, there it goes again—writing. Developing a character in the telling of a story makes you feel and then learn, oh so many!, lessons along the way.You need to find, as precisely as Cupid’s arrow, the heart of your audience.Click To Tweet
Drumming up Courage
When it comes to writing, are you a Cowardly Lion?
I’ve learned a thing or two along my writing journey (and sometimes in life) on this topic. One thing every writer needs is courage:
Your courage begins when you put the first letter down on a page. (Okay, or on your favorite digital device.)
What I’ve learned from the learned and you may find helpful, too, is:
- Writing is a continually evolving, changing, and growing experience. It improves over time and with practice. As you hone your writing skills, you develop a unique style and “craft” that ultimately is a one-of-a-kind, piece of you.
- Writing that’s not good, or needs improvement, will not blow up the world.* You can’t hurt anyone by being courageous enough to give it a go. *I borrowed this one from Linda Formichelli and Carol Tice.
- “Even an editor needs an editor,” is one of my favorite lessons from Kathryn Aragon, of Kathryn Aragon Media. Having a second look (by an editor) gives you a boost of courage.
- Rejection is a part of the business of writing. What????? You mean it isn’t about YOU? Nope, it’s a business decision, or mismatch in timing, or change in guidelines, or…whatever it is…it isn’t you. So gather your courage and move to the next guy who wants, needs, loves, and will PAY for your work. (You’ve heard how many times Stephen King and J.K. Rowling were turned down—and they’re pretty darn good writers, right?) So, I guess courage sometimes means persistence.
- “You are a writer,” as Jeff Goins says. I know I repeated that one to myself, over in my head after reading Jeff because “courage is to proclaim who you know you are and who you want to be.” Sometimes the biggest goofball—the one you mainly have to convince—is yourself. The right mindset is everything in writing. It takes courage to take a stance and determination to act to make it real, and that’s up to you.
Take Action To Help You Roar
Being cowardly, like our favorite Lion on his way to Oz, is often overcome by action.
Forget about yourself and your insecurities and simply take action. Like the Cowardly Lion does when he jumps in and sticks up for Dorothy, showing a lot of courage, even if accidentally.
I guess what I’m saying is that action is motion, and when you’re busy working on your writing skills and doing it, you forget to be afraid.
And soon enough, you won’t have time to waste looking for courage because you’re just too busy writing! At least, that’s how it works for me.
Bring Your Brain to the Game
The quest for a brain to fill the friendly, but empty-headed Scarecrow’s noggin with brilliance is perhaps the biggest feat of all.
This quote, sent to me in an alumni mailing, really stuck in my head, though the pub didn’t say and I have no idea who first said it:
Follow Your Heart, but Take Your Brain Along
You see, just like the Great and Powerful Oz, the brain of the operation is hidden behind the curtain, as is often the case in your writing. But without it, no one can follow the yellow brick road or get anywhere at all.
Logic, too, is paramount to what you write—you know, the thing you need to have in place to hold your thoughts and words together and present them in an inspiring way to readers.
The biggest obstacle to putting the brain in gear in your writing may have something to do with this one thing: it takes work. You know, research, fact-checking, interviews and other analytical data, and background gathering techniques.
This means proving what say, or at the very least, building believability/credibility, or creating a suspension of disbelief, as may be the case for your work, depending on the genre.
This is where the nuts and bolts come into play when you write—more than the Tin Man will ever need in his entire lifetime.
Reading, listening, and learning is something a writer needs to do every single day.
Tuning in and seeing things in new ways helps you find abundant materials and ideas all around you. Plus, it plays into a writer’s natural curiosity!
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. ~John Wooden
Put Your Brain in the Action
In this example, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar backs his views, written for Time with strong data to support his case.
Creative guy, Barry Feldman, writer and content creator extraordinaire, produces piece after piece of writing all over the place, offering not only examples and data-backed information but, he provides worksheets, e-books, webinars, infographics and checklists to:
- prove his position
- beef up your brain and skills
- make him memorable
- build authority with clients and prospects
- and more.
You get the picture. These guys apply smarts to their writing like mad and tremendously have an impact. That’s what you, me, and the Scarecrow all want!
Then all we need to do is add our unique insights for a one-of-a-kind perspective.
TaDa, before you know it, the magic from Glenda’s (the good witch) wand is within reach, ready to twinkle from your pen, and the beautiful Emerald City comes into view.
On this last note, I’ll share a very early tweet on my Twitter feed.
I was new and trying to figure Twitter out at the time. And, I remember feeling delighted because a piece of my writing (testing on my feed) scored me the most love (maybe ONLY love) I had on Twitter, at that point. Now I’m sharing it with you, too:
If being a thought leader means having your own thoughts, I’m in! ~Sue-Ann Bubacz
Reaching the Emerald City
I hope this little trip down the winding yellow road inspires you, or your sense of writing, or helps in some way.
I know some of these ideas and tips, even all of them if you’re a seasoned writer, may be familiar, but I think they apply each time you sit down to write. And sometimes, it’s nice to have a reminder in a simple formula like this.
Bringing heart, courage, and brains into each piece of your work, is no doubt a winning checklist.
In the end, if your readers feel like you’ve brought them home with you, then, well–we all know the rest, “There’s no place like home.”
What do you think?Bringing heart, courage, and brains to each piece of your work is like finding The Emerald City.Click To Tweet
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