Once More With Feeling: How to Write with Emotion

A little over a week ago, I held my first-ever Blog Workshop Webinar.

In the writing world, when you bring a piece to a group to work on it, it’s called workshopping.

So I had the idea that some brave volunteers might bring some blog posts for us to workshop together, and it went really well! I had four awesome volunteers and I think we shared some really great tips with the people who came to watch.

(If you’re interested in seeing the replay, you’d better be sure you’re on my list! I’ve decided only to share it with subscribers, and the link goes out TOMORROW! Use the box on the right or at the bottom of this post to sign up.)

What I thought was so incredibly interesting was that there was one suggestion I could make to all four of these very different woman—with very different businesses and at very different stages of blog development—to improve their blog posts.

Write with more emotion.

amp up the emotion in your blogs | ghostblogger.coWe’ve talked before about how writing a blog is a little like writing a classic, long-form sales letter over a long period of time, and if you’ve ever done any research on copywriting, one of the things you’ll notice is that good copy engages people’s emotions.  It makes them feel something—usually the pain point the product they’re reading about tries to solve.

Here’s an example from one of my sales pages:

It used to be that I blogged as the inspiration struck.  Lots of people do this, and on the surface of it, there’s nothing wrong with that. I had a schedule I tried to stick to, posting every Monday and Wednesday, and at first, that worked just fine.

Then, there was one day that I forgot (read: procrastinated) to write my blog post until the night before, so I was up late pounding something out.

And maybe it wasn’t my best work ever, but it was a post, right? I was sticking to the schedule.

Then came the day that I forgot (err… procrastinated) to write my blog post until the DAY it was supposed to go up! So there I am, Monday morning, trying desperately to come up with something to say while my daughter’s still running around in her pajamas, and I’m typing, and trying to answer her questions, and trying to come around to an actual point with the blog post, and trying to keep her from coloring on the walls, and no, you may not have “just one show,” well, OK, maybe just one show while mommy works, which turned into two or three shows, and WHEW! Got that sucker posted by noon.

But it’s OK, because I stuck to my schedule, right?

Then there was the week that I didn’t stick to my schedule, because life got in the way, or I wasn’t inspired, or I was just too busy with other stuff.

And that week turned into two weeks…

And then three weeks…

And then it turned out that I’d only posted twice in the last month.

Oops?

Can anyone here relate to that? I bet you can. In fact, when I brought that sales page to my copywriting mastermind group (because even profesh writers need to workshop their work from time to time!), several people commented on how well they could relate to it.  And I believe that’s because I’m tapping into an emotion here.

Where’s the emotion?  It’s chiefly in that longer middle paragraph:

Then came the day that I forgot (err… procrastinated) to write my blog post until the DAY it was supposed to go up! So there I am, Monday morning, trying desperately to come up with something to say while my daughter’s still running around in her pajamas, and I’m typing, and trying to answer her questions, and trying to come around to an actual point with the blog post, and trying to keep her from coloring on the walls, and no, you may not have “just one show,” well, OK, maybe just one show while mommy works, which turned into two or three shows, and WHEW! Got that sucker posted by noon.

Most of that paragraph is one long, run-on sentence.  Grammatically correct? Nope. But does it evoke the feeling of being rushed and trying to do 15 things at once?  You betcha.

I’m trying to evoke that rushed, panicked, “What the flying zucchini am I going to write about?!?” feeling that I knew my ideal customers for that product struggle with.

But notice that I don’t ever use the words “panic” or “rushed” to convey that emotion.  You get that feeling because I’m bringing you into my head, showing you how I feel.

Show, don’t tell.

As some of you may know, I am an aspiring novelist, and have spent many years honing the craft of fiction writing, and if you’ve ever read or seen or heard ANYTHING about fiction writing, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “show, don’t tell.”

Good writing—fiction or otherwise—shows us things, it doesn’t tell us things.  For example, a novelist doesn’t just say, “He was sad.”  That would be telling us.  A novelist says, “He hunched his shoulders against the insistent rain, clutching the lapels of his jacket together as though he could hold himself together with the gesture.”  That’s showing us how the character feels through what he’s doing.

How does that apply to blogging?

Well, take my example above.  I could have said, “Have you ever felt rushed to publish a post and panicked because you didn’t know what to write about?”

Some people would think, yeah, I’ve felt that.

But by writing that whole long paragraph that really brought you into how I (the character, in this case) was feeling, people are more likely to say—

Oh my God, I hate that feeling!!

Make them feel the pain before you solve the problem.

In the webinar, I coached one volunteer to make her readers feel really crappy about themselves before she showed them how to do better.

Sounds cruel, doesn’t it?!

But here’s the deal:

Most of your blog posts (like your product or service) solve a problem. Agitate that problem before you solve it to make a bigger impact.

If you remind people of their problem and really make them feel it, then when you solve it, they’ll feel that much better.

As I said, all four of the blogs we workshopped could have punched up the emotion to elicit a bigger response from their readers. One of them wrote me afterward for more advice on how to learn to write with more emotion.

My advice to her?

Practice. This is one of those skills that doesn’t always happen the first time you try it, but the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Try adding it to your list of things to look at when you edit your post, and see where you can dial up the emotions a bit every time you write.

Because this is also one of those little tweaks that can have a BIG impact on your writing!

Original Photo: Incase. via Compfight cc

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24 thoughts on “Once More With Feeling: How to Write with Emotion

  1. Great advice! Man,I’ve been there… with waiting to write my posts. I really try hard to start my posts earlier in the week now and fine tune them as the week goes by. I love your advice on bringing up the feelings, then the answers to the problems. Thanks for your post, its very helpful 😉

  2. I love this…writing with emotion, instead of flat-out, ‘Here’s how you do A,B,C!’ I definitely appreciate blogs that are more conversational – and yes, sometimes that means bringing up the ‘pain point’ first, followed with the solution. 😉

  3. I so needed to read this, this week! Practice is key yet somehow i get discouraged when I don’t get it “just” right. Thank you for the reminder!

  4. This was a great post – thank you for sharing! I have been blogging for a long time but have recently been working on improving my approach to my business blog and I think some of these items are key. I really like the idea of agitating the problem before solving it. That is something I have not considered before – I am usually matter of fact: here’s the problem and here’s our solution…blah! This is so much better!

    Thanks so much!

  5. I love this post. I think often times I focus on distancing myself from my blogging, but I love the idea of using emotion to compell action.

    Thanks!

  6. I need to work on writing with emotion. My blog is about nutritional facts and I often forget to write in a way that people will find interesting. It’s tough to put emotion into scientific articles, but so important if I want to attract readers. This is a great reminder for me and I’m going to start practicing this with each post.

    1. Try working in some personal stories or stories of people you work with (anonymously if necessary). That will humanize your topic a lot! Good luck!

  7. Great advice! I struggle with my personal blog that way. I used to faithfully post five times a week then life at home with two kids happened… so yeah. 🙂

  8. Great post. I’m a new blogger, and although I’m not trying to sell anything, I still want my blog to envoke feeling. I’m definitely putting your tips down in my blog journal.

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