So you’ve written your post for today and it still needs something. It’s…well…a bit dry. Stiff. You take a break and come back a few hours later. Nothing has changed. Instead of tossing your laptop out the window, ask yourself how much of you is in the story. Did you give anything of yourself or are you still holding back?
Giving facts and offering solutions are great, but if people aren’t able to connect with you, and by extension, your blog post or article, they aren’t going to remember it. Or you. It’s hard to build a loyal following if people don’t remember you and want to come back.
Think back to the last time you were at a party where you didn’t know everyone there. When you were introduced to someone new, did you stand there awkwardly and remain silent? Or did you smile, maybe extend your hand, and ask them a question? “So, what do you do?” The answer might be followed up with another question, such as, “How did you get into that?”
In that moment, that person has been handed a chance to make an impact on you with a story. A personal story of what led them into their profession. How they tell that story, and what details they include, are up to them. It’s those variables that take it from ho-hum to exceptional, no matter the story being told.
Make it intentional
When writing a post, choose a story to include. Make it one that elicits emotion, whether it generates a hearty chuckle or causes a tear to roll down your cheek. Either way, you will be connecting with your audience.
You can do this in a couple of different ways. Obviously, you could choose your topic and then search for a story to fit into some part of it. Or you could choose your story and then fit a topic to it. Chalene Johnson, in her Smart Success program, would call the second approach reverse engineering.
Get permission or change it
Choose stories that illustrate a point you want to make. The story might not even be yours. Perhaps it’s one that has been told in your family for years, or one shared by a friend or neighbor. As long as you don’t use names without permission, go ahead and share the story. If you can’t get permission, simply change the names and anything that would identify that person. The story remains true, and no one will know or care.
Why not get ahead of the game and start writing only your stories when you have extra time? Remember that day in sixth grade, when you were so bored that you crawled out of class on your hands and knees? When you went from there down to the girl’s bathroom and played jacks with your friends who also snuck out? Wasn’t that a thrill for your rebellious little heart? At least until your mom came to school as the Art Lady that day and wanted to know why you weren’t in the classroom.
Oh, wait, that’s MY story. I’m hoping, as a writer, that at this point you are invested enough that you want to find out what happened and, if you are like me, then you’re laughing at my foolish self. Anyway, back to my story.
I can still remember my friend, Carolyn, bursting in, the door slamming against the tile wall, as she breathlessly announced, “Lisa, your mom is here!” I looked past her as the ball dropped into my hand, and sure enough, there she was, right behind her. I was in serious trouble. It’s always worse when it’s only the eyes that are doing the speaking.
Once you have your stories, think about how you can use them to illustrate a point, and build your next post around that. For instance, I could use that story to talk about risk-taking, about the way boredom affects people, about the self-control my mom showed, or even about that feeling you have inside, that rather hopeless feeling, when you know you’ve screwed up and you decide to use it to fuel your determination not to experience it again.
The stories you have can be used to not only connect with your audience, but to make a point, to teach a lesson, to entertain them, or even to allow yourself to release something you’ve maybe never discussed before. And in doing so, in admitting it, you are allowing others to do the same, and to feel a tie with you that they maybe hadn’t before. Those experiences turn them into loyal subscribers.
Above all else, be authentic. Tell the story that no one else can tell, because it’s yours. Tell it the way no one else can, because they aren’t you. And don’t forget to proof it.