Should You Write with Your Head or Your Heart?

Should You Write with Your Head or Your Heart?

Have you ever looked over a piece of your writing, only to realize that something’s missing? It’s so easy to get caught up in all the tips, tricks and techniques:

  • Write a great headline – a number, adjectives, a clear promise
  • Have a gripping introduction to draw the reader in
  • Make sure you spell out a benefit for every feature

All of this is good advice. But in itself, it’s not enough.

Head-First Writing Falls Flat

In the first month of my creative writing Masters, both my tutors told me that I wrote too much from the head. I’d gotten all the technical stuff right – I could construct a plot, write good dialogue, and so on – but there was no heart behind my short stories.

They were right. I was trying to follow all the rules, but I didn’t really care about what I wrote.

The same thing happens to a lot of online business owners. We tend to get caught up trying to get things perfect … but this results in copy that’s either bland or trying too hard.

There’s no real energy or excitement behind our words. So we fake it by throwing in lots of extra adjectives and exclamation marks.

Yes, the technicalities of writing are important. If your sales page is poorly constructed and riddled with grammatical errors, you’re going to put people off.

But when you sit down to write your first draft, you want to use your heart, not your head.

How to Write From the Heart:

  • Focus on the why. Think about how much your product can help people. Think about the reasons you set up in business – the things that truly matter to you.
  • Just write. Don’t get hung up on how to express yourself. Imagine you’re sending an email to an old friend, telling them all about what’s going on in your business.
  • Choose to write on topics you care about. If you’re a freelance writer, you might not have total control over what you write about – but you can choose to specialise in something that’s important to you.
  • Get interested. Any topic can excite you, if you let it. Look for a way in or an angle that allows you to say something heartfelt.

Your heart-felt piece is going to be powerful and raw … and it’ll need some shaping to make it as good as possible.

Heart-Centred Writing Needs Editing

There’s nothing false or fake about editing carefully, even if you’re writing something that’s deeply heartfelt.

When you wrote your first draft, you may have fumbled around for words. You might not even have known exactly what you wanted to say until after you’d said it – many people think things through while writing.

Editing lets you clarify your message.

You want to convey your emotions to your reader, but that means polishing up your writing so that the reader gets it. Clunky sentences and distracting typos aren’t going to help.

How to Edit With Your Head:

  • Let your work sit for at least a day. If you’re working on a big project like an ebook, try taking a whole week away from it. You’ll be able to see it more objectively.
  • Print your piece out (or turn it into a .pdf). Read it through and get hold of the big picture. Watch for any major problems, like whole sections that need to be cut, or subtopics that you’ve missed out.
  • Pay close attention to vocabulary. A particular word might resonate with you, but will it work for your reader? If you overuse certain words, look for synonyms.
  • Ask a friend for feedback. When it comes to editing, two heads are always better than one. A writing or business friend can give you a fresh perspective and honest advice.

I know it’s tough to reach deep and put your heart on the page. Every single time I write something that seems a bit too close to home, I’m reluctant to hit “publish”.

But when I do, I’m always overwhelmed by the positive response from readers.

Don’t be afraid to follow your heart. That blog post about something dear to you will touch others. That section of your ebook where you confess your own hang-ups will help people. That sales page which is honest and forthright will reach your ideal customer.
I’m no braver than you. But I ditched those short stories three years ago, and spent the rest of my Master’s degree working on a novel – something I really wanted to read. I ditched my first blog that was all about trying to make money, and started a real business around what I love – writing.

I found my voice by finding the courage to put my heart onto the page.

If I can do it … you can too.

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Post by Ali Luke

Ali Luke has just launched her debut novel Lycopolis, available as an ebook from Amazon. A supernatural thriller with a hefty dose of geekery, Lycopolis has been described as “fast and furious” and “absolutely gripping” by readers. Find out more – and get the first five chapters for free – at Lycopolis.