Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in a sea of writers? Like you’re wasting time because you’re just one of many? You want to stand out, but you don’t know how?
You’re grappling to get to the top, but then you look down and realize you’ve barely moved. How do you get readers to remember you and come back to your work the way you return to your favorite writers’ work?
The answer is simple, but getting to it might not be.
You stand out as a writer by tapping into your emotions and writing what you feel. A few questions might arise with that.
What Does It Mean to Be an Emotional Writer?
What if I’m guarded? What if I’m not an emotional person? What if I don’t want to expose myself? What if I don’t want to get personal?
Don’t get it wrong. Emotion isn’t merely about sadness — it’s a spectrum. Emotion is anger, joy, surprise, excitement, relief. As a writer, your job is to make your reader feel something, but what they feel is up to you.
How they react is under your control, too. You can make someone laugh, feel motivated, or take action,
What emotion do you wish to transfer? What do you want them to do?
You don’t need to rip yourself apart and spill your darkest secrets — not if you don’t want to. But you need to reveal something.
Share parts of yourself, stories, memories so your readers can connect with you on a deep level. Maybe they won’t be able to relate, but they’ll understand you, and therefore, themselves.
Why Does Emotion Matter in Writing?
Whether you’re a writer, photographer, dancer, or painter, emotion matters.
Euphoria actress Zendaya explained why, as an actor, it’s important to tap into all of your emotions. Any creator — writer, or not — can learn from her words:
“You can’t do this with a block ‘cause nothing will happen. You’ll suck, to be honest. You have to allow yourself to feel things.”
Think about it. Which articles stick with you? Which books do you re-read? Which movies do you remember and recommend? The ones that made you feel the most.
What they made you feel is irrelevant. What’s important is that they made you feel something.
For example, talking about Euphoria, the reason that show made such a huge impact was that the story and characters made you feel everything from rage to shock to sadness to freedom deeply.
Your favorite book made you feel emotions that you may not even understand, but that’s why it stays with you. It even works with comedy, which is why I return to Booksmart when I need a laugh.
That’s why Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
People remember emotions. Your writing demands it.
How to Show Emotion Through Writing
1. Remember that only two things exist when you write: you and the page
The reason you hold yourself back is that you’re afraid of what people will think of you. You don’t want to come off as weak, ridiculous, or dramatic.
Showing emotion tends to make us feel embarrassed, especially in articles that could potentially be read by hundreds or even thousands of strangers. What if someone you know runs into your article? What if you say the wrong thing and sound stupid?
Shut down all of those questions and doubts. Remember, it’s only you and the page. Your friends, your family — you can’t let them look over your shoulder.
Like Stephen King said, “Write with the door closed.”
It’s only by realizing that nothing else exists or matters that you’ll be able to be honest. Forget the judgment and laughter and embarrassment because readers can feel resistance and know when you’re holding back.
Let yourself feel, and share the story you know you need to tell.
2. Be honest and unfiltered about yourself and your story
There isn’t a trick to writing emotion. There aren’t specific words to use. (Although, I’m sure there are articles that will prove me otherwise.)
Feeling embarrassed about what you’re writing means you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and when you do that, you grow.
That’s all you need to do: write the truth. If you’re going to write about positive thinking, talk about your struggles with negative thinking. If you’re writing about chasing your dreams, write about how much you disliked your life before you did.
Don’t hide your story. Don’t sugarcoat it. Tell it as it is.
Make em’ laugh, cry, smile. Make em’ think, get angry, feel exasperated. Even if you write for you, the point is to get people to read and relate — if you want to make this a full-time living, that is. And if you do, it requires that you let those walls down and feel and write everything.
You Should Never Back Away From Emotion
Art is emotion. Art is about self-expression and expressing emotion in someone else. If I — a guarded person who rarely shows deep feelings — can do it, so can you.
As Seth Godin said in This is Marketing:
“If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status, or one of the other most desired emotions, you’ve done something worthwhile.
Make people feel. That’s your job.
I know you might feel embarrassed after you’ve poured yourself onto the paper. When you edit, you’ll be tempted to remove all of that, but resist the lure.
The stories you’re afraid to share are the ones that matter most. Fear is a sign that you’re on the right track.
Remember, feeling is human. Emotions make us whole. Why should we be ashamed about being human?
Feel everything, and then share it with the world. That’s how you’ll make an impact. That’s how you get people to remember you.
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