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How To Turn Dry Facts And Expert Views Into Thought Provoking And Memorable Articles

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Posted 16th December 2014 at 03:25 AM by hebsgaard

Nobody wants to read the same old regurgitated crap. You can get that anywhere. Don’t be the one who publishes it.

Does that mean you can’t ever write about things other people have written about? On the contrary. You should discuss other peoples material and opinions. You should put your own spin on it. Challenge the wisdom of what’s written.

Challenge your peers, your readers and most importantly yourself. Progress comes when people ask questions. That’s how all the great innovations have come to be. Less than 500 years ago Galileo challenged the way we viewed the world. He did not only challenge his peers; he challenged the supreme authority.

Galileo spend the latter part of his life in house arrest because he wouldn’t change his mind. He fought for what he knew was right and he was willing to pay the price.

As a writer, challenging opinions, views and beliefs rarely (i hope) have as dire consequences as this. However, if Galileo was willing to pay the price for defending something we now know is the truth then you can certainly risk upsetting a few of your peers here and there.

Does that mean you should always look to start an argument with other people in your field?

Certainly not, it just means you shouldn’t be afraid to. Besides a little controversy now and then never hurt anyone.

That’s when you challenge your peers, however, before that you need to challenge someone else.

Yourself.

You should never write in your comfort zone. You should always test your boundaries. Challenge the things you believe. Move.

Lack of progress will only move you backwards. The only way to make progress is to challenge what you already think you know. One of two things will happen when you do that. You will either realize you were right or find that you were completely wrong. Either way the experience has made you wiser and taught you valuable lessons about what you do.

When you challenge yourself your writing becomes more interesting. Suddenly, what you write matters.

Writing that matters is where you want to be at. It is also what readers want to read. Bland pieces saying what everybody else are saying stink. That’s why nobody wants to read them.

Sometimes what you have to say will challenge your readers. Good. That will make your audience interact with you and that’s when you know you’re going places.

So. Challenge popular belief. Go places. End of.

Wait? How?

Yes. Good question. How?
Let’s start with when.

When you find yourself writing about something that is fairly dry and factual. That’s a good time to look for a provocative angle. Make the dull interesting. It’s almost like turning lead into gold, just, you know, possible.

Another good time is when you find a blog post from another blogger that you really like. Use that blog post to inspire your own blog post. Don’t rip it apart. Add to the discussion. If you find yourself commenting on a post on another blog then you should seriously consider if there’s basis for a blog post of your own that either answers something the original post left unanswered or something that adds to the original piece. This will benefit you as well as the owner of the blog you’re replying to. It’s a technique that brings life to the blogosphere (I hate that term, but what can you do?).

When you happen upon a quote in the news or in a book which inspires you. Inspiration can be many things. There are certain people who, whenever I hear them talk, fills me with a righteous wrath that I usually need a bit of time to calm down from. There are also quotes that make me sad, happy, thankful etc. Not all of these quotes are relevant to my chosen field, but all of them can inspire me to write. Often this writing will be exceptionally passionate. Passion doesn’t automatically mean it’s good, but rarely hurts.

Ok. Ok. How?

How do you challenge belief and provoke? Can something like that really be put into a formula? Should it be?

Yes. Yes. And hell YES!

How do you challenge your own belief (or that of others)? Well, I have 3 boys, 2 of whom are at the age of verbal communication. They tend to be able to put me on edge using just one simple word. If you have kids I’m sure you know which word I’m referring to.

Why?

Why this? Why that? Why black? Why white? Why round? Why now?

Over and over again.

As annoying as it is, it is also nothing short of brilliant. As a kid you’re naturally inquisitive. You have to be. That’s the only way you learn how the world works. Sadly, as we grow older (and some say wiser) we forget to ask. Our eager to explore and question what we see, read and hear fades.

As a writer of thought provoking and memorable pieces it is your duty to regain this curiosity. Whenever you read, write or hear a statement your duty is to ask, why? Why do I accept this as the truth? Why is this the only way? Why?

Action steps:
  • Look at your last piece of writing.
  • Question it. Ask why?
  • Write another piece answering your question.
  • Do steps 1-3 for a piece you’ve read on your favorite blog.
  • Do steps 1-3 for a quote you’ve read or heard in the news or in a magazine.
  • Rinse and repeat.

The speed at which you write this will always depend on the system you use. Asking questions will probably make you write faster. It is difficult to answer a question without feeling the heat of passion. I know I can’t. When you research your answer list the major points of your answer and keep that list close when you write your piece. If you want to know more about using lists to improve your writing you should take a look at my “Money Love Words” writing course.
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