Have you ever forgotten something right after you read it?
I’ll bet that you’re nodding your head.
I recently watched an intriguing video Feats of Memory Anyone Can Do. The speaker said, in order to remember something we have to be able to put some emotional hooks into it. We have to connect the new information to things we already know, or else we forget it.
As writers, this is our challenge; to make our writing relatable and memorable. Here are some common connections.
Humor: When writing includes some humor, our emotional hooks file some of the information under “funny things”. Later when someone relates a humorous story, we find we are able to fish out that specific information we read and re-tell why it made us chuckle. James Watkins, author, speaker, and (self-proclaimed) threat to society, has written on some serious subjects with a touch of humor. He also penned, Writing with Banana Peels – Principles, Practices, and Pratfalls of Writing Humor.
Star Power: Using a famous personality can enhance your impact. I heard a writer/speaker recall an assignment to write about a new eye surgery procedure. He believed the information alone would not interest readers. During research, he came across several unrelated celebrities who had the same treatment. Then he started the article by listing the famous names and asking the reader what each of these people had in common. Now he was excited about finishing the article.
Tension: Book authors talk about creating tension often and for good reason – it works. In a novel you raise suspicions, build excitement, and drag your reader closer to the story’s conclusion. In an article, you raise questions, build an argument, and draw readers toward the close.
Fear: Listen to the news headlines to see this technique in use: “Deadly warning about a food that may be in your refrigerator – right after this.” Use this sparingly. It can be effective, but it can backfire if the information doesn’t deliver on its importance.
Answer the need: Find a need and write about a possible way to meet it. People with the same need will instantly connect with you because you are considering the same solutions.
In most of my writing I inject some humor. Sometimes I’ll pull in an expert witness, and occasionally use star power. I try to keep a particular rhythm and tension to my words. My intention is to inspire you to reach your writing goals. I sometimes allow my fears to show in what I write, but I sincerely hope that I am answering a need.
Next week I plan to write on ways writers can get a handle on organization. I thought about doing that for this post, but then I thought maybe I should put the ideas into practice before writing about them. Until then, Write on.