April 24, 2014

Neil Strauss’s key to writing: Assume that no one cares

In an excellent video interview (below) with Tim Ferriss, NYT best selling author, Neil Strauss offers his key to good writing. Let me paraphrase a superb writing technique:

As you begin to write, assume that no-one cares.

  Neil-Strauss

 

Clueless writers assume that there’s something inherently interesting in whatever they write. But the experienced writer assumes no such thing. He knows he must leverage reader interest at every point and go to whatever lengths it takes to grab and hold that interest. Strauss has written 7 NYT best-sellers.

 There’s no shortage of writing techniques that allow you to appeal to reader interest, but Strauss’s goes right to how you conceive and create any piece. It’s something to keep in mind at all times – from the plan and the outline, to the re-writes and the edits. Reader interest.

So, I suggest a simple question you can ask yourself from the beginning: “Since my reader may have no interest in this, what do I have to do to conceive the subject in an interesting way, to start off with an interesting angle, and to sustain that interest throughout the piece?”

 Strauss in his own words:

If you guys want to write, or anyone wants to write… the first thing is I assume that no-one cares. I assume that no one cares about what I’m writing about. Nobody cares about me. No-one cares about what I have to say. No-one cares about the things I care about. So if you can just go from the premise that nobody cares, then how can I make them care? … From the first sentence, from the first paragraph… you know? At the end of that chapter, how am I going to make them turn to the next chapter? My main  goals is to keep it interesting and assume that no-one’s interested.

 This is wise. And there’s more writing wisdom in the video, some of which pertains to reader interest, too. One powerful insight: Choose topics that you care about. Don’t write about something because you think it’s clever, or viral, or might sell well. Write about the things you care about.

If you care enough about anything you can make it interesting.

 

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