Do You Actually Care About Your Readers?
I see your catchy title, but does it give your readers what you promised
The past month on Medium, I’ve watched article after article pop-up on my phone’s notifications. They have ranged from productivity secrets to sex talk to people sharing wonderful vignettes (I particularly enjoyed Rolli’s The Fate of Imaginative Children and Molly Henderson’s Jeff Bezos Lazy Saturday Morning Routine).
Eventually, after a month of seeing feeds, I began to see a lot of the same styled titles.
- “The One Secret to X,”
- “The Two Ways to Y,” and
- “15 Things You Need to Unlearn to be Z Person”.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these titles. In fact, it’s nice that they provide clear structure and make content digestible.
But as I read more and more of these titles, I can’t help but wonder . . . do these authors care or take reader seriously?
Or, am I just a stat on their paywall?
Is there really only one secret and is it really a secret? Is it true that your method will lead to 10,000 readers? Do I need to write every day?
Maybe it worked for someone else, but will it work for me with my lifestyle, my interests, my schedule, and my style of writing?
This is what I mean when I ask is the author taking the reader seriously when he or she uses such headlines?
I appreciate a catchy title, but based on that numbered title, I will probably proceed to scan rather than be captured, intrigued, informed, or benefitted.
As I think about my brief time here on Medium, the articles that have made my memory covered the following:
- a satire on Jeff Bezos’ morning routine
- an inspiring story of kid who avoided class to read books who became a writer
- two techniques for great oral sex
- two posts on being kinder and letting go of self-imposed expectations
That’s roughly 5 percent of all the articles I read.
While I don’t expect every article to hit a home run, I wonder if the titles I see are actually doing justice to the reader.
If I Wrote An Honest Article
The day after Christmas, I was sick to the point that it forced me to stop doing everything.
No serious reading. No hardcore reflection. No benchmarking or comparing. No excessively reading Medium or other sources of online advice. For three days, I simply relaxed and focused on recovering.
During that time, I realized how peaceful and enjoyable life was without my self-imposed productivity metrics.
I slept better than I’d slept all year, rarely waking up. The number of intrusive thoughts in daily life decreased. I recovered a sense of just being myself and being okay with no additional inputs or demands for self-betterment.
Then, as I prepared to fly to Spain to start my final semester of school, the pace of life picked-up, the stress increased, and, in the midst of this, the title question of this blog struck me . . . do I take my readers seriously?
If I did, I would tell you not to read more books, but to read fewer books.
I would tell you to not to fill and manage every hour, but to only fill some of them.
I would tell you to rest more, be kinder to yourself, and treat your body well or it will backfire.
I would tell you to buy a soft blanket, a nice scented candle, and a solid pair of headphones to listen to music that moves you.
I would tell you to take a week every month where you dismiss all productivity metrics, allow yourself to breath, and go for a walk in the sun.
The end of December possessed some of the most restful days of my 2019.
It was without productive, life-hacks, demands, measures, or any other form of arbitrary success.
If I could replicate that simplicity, I know I would have a very happy lifestyle.
I’m not quite there as an expat. I still have language to learn, make my girlfriend my wife, and finish a semester of school. But, I am discovering a place where expectations can fall away. I’m discovering a place that (I hope) will help write in a more authentic, human, and helpful manner for readers.
I may not be able to live in this space 24/7, but I’m taking steps to let go and prioritize happiness and proper rest each day.
This year, I hope you don’t write just to write. I hope you write because you believe it, because it moves you, or because it is you. Then, write for readers in a way that shows them you care.
It may have a few typos, but at least the heart will come across, and you might just find people like for your writing rather than your clickbait titles.