When writers make readers their friends, the relationship becomes one that is mutually beneficial
The writer and reader relationship is a bit like a friendship. And if a writer does their job well, it’s the best kind of friendship.
Think of the conversations you have with your closest companions. What benefits does the relationship give you? Most likely, you will say things such as compassion, empathy, or a “listening ear.”
If the friendship is truly strong and secure, then even more benefits can be derived from the connection. For example, a good friend may give you a gentle nudge to take action, a constructive yet kind criticism, and even a swift “kick in the pants” if you really need it.
And the most successful writers can do this for their readers as well.
So, what exactly are the words that a reader wants from their “BFF” writer?
Here are a few of them.
“You Can Do It” and “Here’s How”
Individuals need inspiration to follow through on their ambitions. And yes, I know some of that has to come from an internal source within the person. But we’re human, and we lose hope at times. Our faith in our abilities turns to doubt and even feelings of despair. However, good friends often remind us that we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves. And so do good writers.
Take writer Roy T. Bennett’s words from his book “The Light in the Heart: Inspirational Thoughts for Living Your Best Life.” In the book, he states, “Believe in yourself, your abilities and your own potential. Never let self-doubt hold you captive. You are worthy of all that you dream of and hope for.”
His written words have undoubtedly refilled the empty well of hope for a reader struggling to go forward in life. And when a human’s “water pail of inspiration” is empty, we need someone to bring the water to us — and that is what a writer can deliver.
But even better than the inspiration and motivation that a good friend can give, those friends who follow their kind words with good advice are even more valuable.
Again, this is what a good writer can do.
In the mysteriously wonderful “conversation” between a writer and a reader, the reader silently whispers to the writer, “Don’t just believe in my dreams. Help me achieve them.”
This is why writers should always provide both inspiration and information to the reader.
And, just as we may decide to turn down a good friend’s advice on a relationship problem or workplace drama, their words still provide benefit.
Their words give us something to think about that may lead us to a solution or strategy that we feel will work for us.
In the same vein, a writer should also offer readers hard-earned wisdom or strategic steps to success that will, at best, solve their problem, or at least give them “something to chew on” or “food for thought.”
And the advice is especially beneficial when it comes from a writer’s personal experience or well-researched data that provides evidence that the strategy or tactic may work.
Furthermore, just as no good friendship is one-sided, a reader who we inspire and inform can help take some of the struggles out of the phrase “struggling writer.”
After all, the blog Market Research states that “The U.S. self-improvement market was worth 9.9 billion in 2016,” and it’s, “forecast to post 5.6% average yearly gains from 2016 to 2022, when the market should be worth 13.2 billion dollars.”
And wouldn’t you like to inspire and help others while at the same time getting a “piece of that billion-dollar pie”? I know I would.
“Me Too” and “I Understand”
Don’t we love it when we tell our problems to a friend and they respond with, “I know exactly what you mean,” or, “Yes, I’ve had that problem too?”
We love commiseration because it means someone “gets” us or we aren’t alone.
And this sense of shared humanity is also something a writer can give their reader.
In Psychology Today’s article “Feeling Understood — Even More Important Than Feeling Loved,” they cite blogger Manal Ghosain, who states the truth that “not feeling that others really know us can leave us feeling hopelessly estranged from the rest of humanity.”
And as a published writer who often gets requests from editors to rework my material to make it more provocative, I can’t tell you how many times they’ve asked me, “Can you give a personal example from your life?” Or, “Can you start the article with a personal narrative on how [said topic] has impacted your existence?”
It shows the reader that you understand and “you’ve been there.”
And this shared experience will keep them reading for many reasons: to see how you handled the situation differently so they can gain a lesson on how to better approach a problem, to know that the things they’re feeling are “OK” and valid, or to simply be comforted by the fact that they’re not alone in their hardships.
After all, people are bonded by their shared struggles, and if a writer can let a reader feel this sense of “togetherness,” then most likely the reader will keep coming back for more.
There are times in our friendships when all we can say is “I’m sorry.” Maybe our friend is dealing with the after-effects of childhood trauma. Maybe they have been victim to marital infidelity or the death of a loved one.
These situations our friend is experiencing are ones that can’t be fixed. But oftentimes, a simple acknowledgment of their suffering can ease the pain of the wounds life sometimes creates for a human.
This act of compassion is yet another gift that a good writer can give their reader.
As Roberta Flack originally stated in her song “Killing Me Softly,” a good writer can “sing [the reader’s] life” and “[strum the reader’s pain] with his [or her] words.”
Essentially, when our tragedies or pains are spoken aloud by another, we feel “heard.” Someone has “seen” us. Felt for us. Grieved for us.
Recounting another’s pain is also an act of empathy. And when a person (or writer) shows this reaction, their kindness is always noticed and remembered.
The Bottom Line:
Good friendships are built on kindness, shared experiences, and a willingness to help one another through the difficulties of this beautiful yet harrowing world in which we live.
The same holds true for the writer-reader relationship.
Show your reader you understand. Help dry their tears and fuel their dreams. And they will show you loyalty in return.