Many years back, when I wrote my first book manuscript and sent it to a publisher, I got a letter back from them saying, “Your writing is terrible, your grammar is worse and you have no idea about punctuation. But … you tell wonderful stories and make complex ideas so easy to understand. You have a great writing style.”
They went on to explain that while writers can learn to write better, the biggest problem they (the publishers) have is finding writers who can share stories – practical, interesting and relevant anecdotes that will resonate with readers and help them better understand key points.
Go forward 20 years and in that time I’ve written thousands upon thousands of articles (not all of them gold I might add). But I’ve certainly managed to write articles that get read and I’ve followed the same principle for all: I use stories and anecdotes to illustrate the points I’m trying to make, and this makes my writing more engaging and accessible.
I hear of so many writers having the problem where they sit and look at a blank screen and think ‘I haven’t got any stories.’ At which point they start penning a more formal dissertation on ‘How to save 10 minutes an hour by meditating.’
I never have this problem. I see stories and anecdotes everywhere. (Kinda like ‘I see dead people’).
Remember the stories don’t need to be yours. They can be something you read, something you’ve heard, something you’ve observed.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business writing section.
Here’s how I find the stories I share:
1. Consume information
I spend between 5am and 6am every morning reading, learning, reviewing my favourite websites, books, magazines and podcasts. From these I get a pile of anecdotes that I can share in my articles. Articles that generally start with ‘I read an article this morning that made me ponder …’
2. Open my eyes
When it comes to being out and about in the real world, I always have my ‘article idea’ glasses on. I look to every interaction for ideas, observations and realisations about the good, bad, ugly, unusual, thought-provoking and awesome of doing business. These become the basis of my articles.
3. Keep track of it all
Last, but not least, I keep a list of anecdotes and stories. I’ve got thousands of ideas on this list, which means I’m never really short of a story, and I use these in my articles, in my presentations, in my coaching sessions … everywhere.
So, if you want to make your writing more engaging and your content more valuable (both for you and the reader), try adding more anecdotes and stories and notice the difference.
It will be significant. That I can promise!