April 16

How your inspirational writing can change minds and move hearts

    It’s so easy for us to get focused on the words on the page and how to shape them into grammatically correct, logical, powerful sentences. That’s important, sure, but I want to take a step back from mechanics to talk about how your inspirational writing can change minds and move hearts.

    The most important part of writing is the reader. After all, the only way your writing means anything at all is because it is absorbed, interpreted, and acted upon by a reader. Without a reader, your writing is a mental exercise. If you want to make an impact, though, it will be through your reader’s mind and heart.

    Who are you writing to?

    When you sit down to write, you won’t always know exactly who you’re writing to, but you should begin the process of figuring it out pretty darn quickly. Here are some questions to guide you as you think through who your reader is:

    1. Who do you hope to encourage or inspire with this message?
    Try to imagine someone who is discouraged by something particular in life. Maybe this person has given up hope because she feels that no one understands what she’s going through. Maybe this person is battling against an injustice and wants to know that he’s not alone in the fight.

    2. What answers or solutions is this person seeking?
    Put yourself inside this person’s mind and emotional state. There is probably some information, some story, some advice that would put this person’s mind and heart at ease.

    3. What is this person hoping to do with the answers or solutions?
    Think about how the information, story, or advice could prompt the person to take action in a way that would change her life. Or maybe would shift his perspective and how he looks at the world.

    What these questions are meant to highlight is that your words are meant to meet another person at his point of confusion or desperation and then offer some answer, solution, or perspective that will encourage him to take action or rethink life.

    Who are you NOT writing to?

    If you want to create an impactful bond with a reader that truly changes the world, I would recommend that you avoid writing for the chance to prove that your perspective is right and the reader's is wrong.

    You are not writing to a competitor in a debate argument.

    You are not writing to a self-righteous person of power who needs his ego deflated.

    You are not writing to a person who has strayed from the path and needs to be set right.

    You are not writing to someone who is eager to fight with you.

    In each of those positions, you are setting yourself up for communication failure. No matter how rational your points, no matter how persuasively you argue, no matter how many years of experience have lead you to believe what you believe, if the reader feels threatened and angry while reading, not one sentence will make an impact on her life or perspective.

    If you can write to encourage, rather than to prove yourself right, you will have an infinitely more profound impact on the reader.

    Ultimately, as writers, we do our best work when we seek to encourage and inspire others. When we talk to those who come from a similar philosophical background as we do, we can move hearts with our stories and insights.

    What does this look like in real-world, concrete situations? Let’s talk through some examples.

    If you are passionate about education reform at the national level, you are writing not to the bureaucrats who established the law that you want repealed, you are writing to the teachers, advocates, and politicians who already agree with you that education needs reforming. When you share your stories and insights, you will inspire them to action. The bureaucrats, however, will rebuff your writing at every turn.

    If you seek to inspire families to pull their children out of traditional schools and travel the world, you are not writing to principals of elite private schools, you are writing to families who love travel and are already somewhat skeptical of the school system.

    If you hope to end hunger in Ethiopia, you are not writing to the dictator of Ethiopia to convince him to cease corruption and use his money to feed his people, you are writing to activists who are already eager to help end poverty and hunger.

    Do you see how your writing could be magnified by those you inspire, even if there are those who vehemently disagree with you? Write for those you want to encourage and inspire, not for those who would seek to flatten you in a court of law.

    Time is much too precious to spend on debates of facts and information when we have hearts to set afire.

    What about you? Who are you writing to? As importantly, who are you NOT writing to?


    You may also like

    Which "Publishing Path" is right for your book?

    There are FOUR different publishing paths for the modern author. Ready to discover which one's right for YOUR book?