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5 Writing Tips To Keep Your Readers Awake

A friend told a joke at Christmas Eve dinner that offers a strategy for getting the best reward in heaven. Or here on earth, if you’re a writer.

Results get rewarded

A priest and a taxi driver arrived at the Pearly Gates and were met by a radiant St. Peter.

“Welcome, gentlemen,” he boomed. “Father Christopher, I have a cozy cottage ideal for you. The angel on my right will show you the way.”

“And Gionni Gianni, I have a fine estate perfect for you. The angel on my left will escort you to your mansion.”

Off the gentlemen went. But comfortable as Father Christopher was in his new digs, he wondered why a priest wouldn’t earn a better reward than a taxi driver. So he visited St. Peter and asked him to explain.

“It’s simple,” said St. Peter. “Here we’re interested in results. When you preached, parishioners slept. When Gionni drove, riders prayed.”

So how do you write to produce results?

Your goal may not be to move your prospects and customers to prayer. But you do want results–and putting your audience to sleep won’t achieve them. Yet too often copy seems tailor-made to bore readers rather than enlighten and entertain them.

Here are five quick ideas to lighten up your writing:

  • Write like you’re chatting with your favorite co-worker, not presenting to your CEO.
  • Add a personal touch: When you share your own feats and foibles, your audience relates better and stays interested.
  • Keep the readability below 10th grade level and preferably below 8th grade level.
  • Cut the text by at least one-third—even if it’s only 10 words long.
  • Ask yourself if you’d be interested in reading what you wrote. Answer honestly. OK, now rewrite.

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