“Marisa, are you having fun writing this?”
It was a curveball question that I wasn’t expecting, especially from my editor. I sat there stunned.
I remember thinking, “Is work supposed to be fun?”
I even wondered if it was some kind of trap. Maybe he was expecting me to say something specific?
I decided to tell him the truth… “No. I’m not having fun.”
I instantly knew why he asked the question. He could tell that I didn’t enjoy writing any part of the article I’d submitted.
This was back when I was doing a summer internship at the World Paper in Boston.
I was burning with ambition and was thinking about being a serious journalist. I wanted to make a name for myself. I even dreamed of winning awards (hello, Pulitzer!).
And while I wasn’t afraid to work my a$$ off to get there, I was definitely NOT having fun.
I wrote what I thought I was supposed to write and even though I followed all the “rules” and my copy was technically flawless, it fell flat.
It lacked depth. It lacked emotion.
And that’s exactly what’s wrong with a lot of content that’s out there.
So much of what we read online is technically correct and sometimes the insights, teachings or offers are good… really good.
But it doesn’t land with the audience — it doesn’t stick — because it lacks emotion.
And so, we end up hitting that back button in our browser (usually in just 3-7 seconds) and we don’t look back.
It Doesn’t Matter How You Get There
Whether it’s a sales page, a blog post, an email or even a tweet, emotion is the key ingredient that’ll make your words come alive.
Think about it…
When you write for your business, you want people to click, like, share or buy.
You want them to implement your ideas and insights.
You want them to take some kind of action and infusing emotion into your words is how you’ll get them there.
Jon Morrow — one of the greatest bloggers on the planet — is ALL about triggering emotions with words.
Jon will identify the primary emotion he wants his readers to feel before he even starts writing. So maybe he’ll decide that emotion is joy or motivation or anger.
Then, he’ll write that emotion at the top of the page and also note the insight, lesson or action he wants people to take — the outcome they’ll get — from reading.
Then as he writes, he consistently connects back to that emotion and the outcome at the top of the page so he knows he’s on track. (You just have to read his post that shook the internet)
And in the post you’re reading right now, the primary emotion I’m going for is inspiration… I want you to feel inspired to write in a way that evokes real emotions in your readers. The outcome I want you get is that writing to create emotion — writing to move your audience — is the most powerful, effective way to craft standout content that motivates action.
I happen to think Jon’s advice is genius because the truth is the emotion and the primary outcome you want people to get from your writing is worlds more important than following the rules…
It’s more important than perfect sentence structure or spelling or punctuation — and hold on to your hat — it’s more important than perfect grammar!
So, I’m giving you permission to break every writing rule you can think of. (I just did it myself — I ended that sentence with a preposition!)
Forget about structure and spelling, forget about punctuation, grammar and all the rest and focus on infusing your writing with emotion.
When people remember what you wrote long after they’re done reading…
When people are inspired, or hopeful or motivated to take action, you know your writing is making a difference, you know you’re creating change.
And when your words do all of that and more for your audience, it doesn’t matter how many rules you need to break to get there!
Poet Laureate of Corporate America
So, here’s another powerful way to infuse emotion into your writing. This one’s a little out there but I want you to stay with me on this…
This is a tip given to me by my friend Sekou Andrews. He’s the innovator of a new category of speaking called “poetic voice” and he’s one of a kind.
Forbes describes him as “the de facto poet laureate of corporate America” and he’s an in-demand presenter and a performer who’s happy to break every single rule ever created around speaking and writing 🙂
So, when it comes to infusing emotion, Sekou talks about hanging masks on your wall somewhere in eyesight of your desk and attributing a different expression or feeling to each mask.
Here’s how it works…
When you want to call up an emotion and infuse that emotion into your speech or your article or whatever you’re writing, look at the mask that represents the emotion you’re thinking of so you can get into that emotional space.
For instance, if you want to infuse excitement into your writing, look at the mask of excitement and tune into that feeling before you sit down to write.
I used to collect masks from all over the world in my travels. I’ve used this technique and it absolutely works! Masks allow you to take on a fundamentally different energy or personality.
If you don’t want to work with masks, choose another object that symbolizes a specific emotion for you.
Maybe it could be a ring that represents love and devotion or a watch or pen you received for getting straight As at school and you feel pride and confidence when you look at it.
Anything that encapsulates an emotion will work and you can use it as an anchor to infuse that emotion in your writing.
There Are Billions of People Online But Only One YOU
So, when you sit down to write, allow yourself to feel and let yourself break all the rules.
When you’re stuck on NOT breaking any rules, when you’re trying to hit every single copywriting must-do in your marketing material…
What you’re really doing is blocking your creativity and your ability to express yourself freely.
And this is when you end up with something I like to call “unexpressive, constipated writing.”
We see it all the time with boring cookie cutter headlines and subject lines and factory-line content that feels like it was cranked out by a machine.
Something to know…
Creative, expressive, emotion-infused writing is a forever skill — it’s the superpower of the future — and it’s going to be a loooong time (if ever) before AI catches up!
When my editor asked if I was having fun all those years ago, it triggered a creative breakthrough.
It cracked me open. It set me free. It liberated me.
I started writing with emotion. I expressed myself with rich language and metaphors…
I let myself be me.
And I started to get responses and comments from readers who were moved by my words.
That’s the real secret to powerful, one-of-a-kind marketing and sales messages and valuable content…
Letting yourself feel and letting yourself be YOU.
It’s right there on our homepage at Live Your Message:
There are billions of people online right now. But only One You.
And infusing your writing with emotion is the thing that lets you be YOU.
It will set you apart. It will set you free.
Now, it’s your turn…
What’s one piece of writing that moved you? A sentence, a paragraph, a poem or a book? What did you feel when you read it?
Share your thoughts in the comments… I’d love to know 🙂
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Love it? Hate it? Let me know...
Thanks so much Marisa for those super-precious keys..♥
That is super helpful. I have known that I need to change my marketing approach for some time, and this may very well be what gets me into the right space. It resonates with me. Thanks so much, Marisa!
David W. Orr’s compilations of essays really grab me. They are trenchant amd funny and cover a ramge of topics related to education in the context of our living biosphere.
Will have to check those out! Thanks for sharing!
Words that really moved m were these from the Restoration Scene in “King Lear.” The context: Lear in a world betwixt sleep and wake. madness and sanity, speaks these lines to his vision. Later to be recognised as Cordelia.
Lear: You do me wrong to take me out o’ th’ grave.
Thou art a soul in bliss, but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead.
How inspiring! Love King Lear, Vincent! Thanks for sharing… I know Marisa appreciates it 🙂
This week was one of massive discovery-and to explore key critical questions that brings us back to source is
everything! I will never stop exploring further and deeper ideas. Much love and gratitude!
Love this, Mona! Thanks for sharing 🙂
this moves me ,really thankful i thought about this rule but now i have a breakthrough
Thanks for sharing! Marisa definitely appreciates it!
Wow! That’s the first time I’ve ever read that Jon Morrow post. I’m crying and inspired all at the same time…and questioning my mothering lol. Thanks for sharing.
Just so incredible… he’s amazing. Thanks so much for reading and commenting… Marisa appreciates it, Natalie!
Thank you.That is inspiring
Thanks for reading, James! Marisa appreciates it so much 🙂
Love it! Never really thought about it, but of course I notice the difference when writing with huge excitement and inspiration, being thrilled to share your piece of writing to the world compared to the moment when writing to get some text ready.. without passion.
Next time I will really have this in my mind before getting into writing mood.
Thanks so much!!
Love this takeaway, Marjaana! Thanks for reading and for commenting… Marisa appreciates it!