The Art of One Butt Cheek Blogging

One Butt Cheek

Once in a while, every blogger’s writing gets a little stale. You still get your point across well enough, but your posts are missing that passion, that power, that “Oomph” that forces people to pay attention. Everything you write sounds like you’re tired. You might even start to wonder if you’re getting bored with your topic.

Is it true? Are you doomed to mediocre content? Should you just stop wasting time and give up on your blog now?

No.

You see, writers aren’t the only creative professionals who suffer from a lack of pizzazz. All artists, from painters to choreographers to musicians, struggle to find an emotional connection with their work, and even the best of us go through dry spells.

Sometimes, you can just wait for it to pass. Other times, it stays dry, and you plummet into writer’s block. When that happens, everyone seems to have advice on what to do, but in my experience, very little of it works. For me, only one technique is consistently effective.

I call it “One Butt Cheek Blogging.”

Get off of Those Butt Cheeks!

Who would’ve ever thought your butt cheeks could have anything to do with blogging? But they do. In fact, you might say they’re an excellent yardstick for engagement in general.

The next time you’re in a public event, such as a lecture, play, or ballgame, look at everyone’s body posture. People who are disengaged are usually leaning back, resting comfortably on both butt cheeks. It’s only when they really get into it that they begin leaning forward, putting all of their weight on a single cheek.

Think it’s insignificant? It’s not.

I borrowed the concept from Benjamin Zander, one of the most sought after conductors and public speakers in the world. In one of his speeches (you really should watch this), he tells a story about advising a struggling pianist to lean forward on one butt cheek and then play the piece again. The pianist was a little skeptical, but considering Zander‘s reputation, he tried it anyway.

The result?

Almost if by magic, the pianist connected with the piece. Instead of just thinking about the music intellectually, he brought his body into it, using his posture to help unlock his passion. Ever since, Benjamin Zander has been spreading the one butt cheek methodology around the world, even teaching it to companies that want to help their employees become more engaged.

The good news is it works for writers too. Here’s how to become a one butt cheek blogger:

Write from the Inside Out

So many bloggers quit writing because their topic ceases to inspire them. They think the only way to keep going is to start a new blog on a new topic and reach for new inspiration.

But that’s a huge mistake.

Any longtime writer will tell you that you can’t wait for your work to inspire you. You’ll be waiting forever. The only way you’ll make writing a career is if you can bring inspiration to your work, not the other way around.

Most beginning bloggers have it backwards. They think the topic is supposed to inspire them, when really, they are supposed to inspire the topic.

You have to write from the inside out.

Every time I start to write a post, I usually spend at least 10-20 minutes looking for my passion. I just sit there and think, not writing a word. I have to give my mind time to find that special idea.

When it happens, I know it. My heart starts beating faster. I wake up. And if I were able to move from the neck down, I guarantee you I would be leaning forward onto one butt cheek, raring to write.

Never, ever sit down to write with the intention of just cranking out a post. Your writing deserves full engagement, and so do your readers. You might even say it’s contagious.

How to Engage Your Readers

If you want to learn how to be a great writer, spend some time watching great speakers like Benjamin Zander and how their audiences react.

When a great speaker is performing, it’s impossible to ignore them. As the speech goes on, they seem to get bigger and bigger onstage, drawing the audience in by the sheer gravity of their persona. They don’t just deliver the content. They unleash a torrent of energy that’s so powerful that you can feel it around you.

You can see it not only in the audience’s posture, but also in their eyes. They light up like Christmas lights. It isn’t their own energy that causes their eyes to sparkle, either. It’s the energy of the speaker, powering them like an electric cable.

Can you have the same effect on your readers?

One of the hard parts about blogging is you can’t see people’s reactions. You can’t see their eyes sparkling or them leaning forward in their seats. All you have is their comments, and most people can’t articulate the effect you have on them. So it’s hard to know.

But I’ll tell you… the posts I love most dearly are the ones where bloggers pour themselves into it. Here on Copyblogger, it’s this one about Brian’s near-death experience. If you want to see the results, just look at the number of trackbacks and comments.

The bottom line: if you want to engage your readership, then you have to engage yourself. Don’t just deliver the content. Put so much passion into your posts that they’re impossible to ignore.

You won’t just become a better blogger. You’ll also become a better person.

And the eyes of your readers? You might not be able to see them, but all across the world, they’ll begin to shine.

That’s the magic of full engagement.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is an Associate Editor of Copyblogger and co-founder of Partnering Profits.

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Comments

  1. Great advice! I never stopped to think about how my posture could affect my writing, but when you point it out, it makes perfect sense.

    I will certainly keep this in mind, since I have horrible posture, even when I’m not in front of the computer. I guess that happens when you’re nearly noticeably taller than most of your family. ;)

  2. Jon, I have not read your article yet. I just had to hurry on down here to the comments and say, “NO YOU DIDN’T!”

    Now, I’ll read the post.
    Regards
    Shane
    twitter: shanearthur

  3. I took a two week break from writing at the end of the year, my first in fifteen months. When I started to write again it was like I was trying to bench my best amount after a month of being absent from the gym. I through out three drafts of my post because I KNEW they weren’t my best. You’re absolutely right – if you don’t care, no one else will either.

  4. Awesome concept! I do notice that the times I find myself more actively engaged in something, my posture does change.

    So changing my posture to cause me to engage in something is brilliant!

  5. “One of the hard parts about blogging is you can’t see people’s reactions. You can’t see their eyes sparkling or them leaning forward in their seats.”

    Just so you know, this post had me leaning forward in my seat as I read it. :)

  6. I can completely relate to this post! I know how it feels to have a great article brewing beneath the surface; and yes, my heart races too and I can’t wait to get to the keyboard! Alot of my great ideas come when I’m driving, or in the shower, or taking a run. One of my favorite articles that I wrote for hubpages (not my blog), was about my experience buying a Rolex Submariner watch for my husband for our 15th wedding anniversary. It was fun to write and I was able to recount how I felt buying such a gift for him:)

  7. Jon

    Your right about passion and engagement in writing. Inspiration is something we should add to the subject not the otherway around .

    If sitting on one-butt-cheek works I am destined for a flat right cheek.

    Thanks

  8. Jon,

    This one of the most stirring posts I’ve read here… and Copyblogger is home to many rousing articles. It actually brought me to tears.

    I have a long history in corporate communications and baring my feelings and passion in my writing is an ongoing struggle for me.

    But I also have an extensive background in music and your story of Zander’s advice to the pianist struck a deep chord in me. THIS I can relate to.

    You and your writing are a wellspring of inspiration for the “rest of us.” Thanks for this powerful gem.

  9. I actually experience this when I am doing singing practice and my singing teacher always says, “If you don’t enjoy your singing, nobody will.” This is a very timely blog post because I’m beginning to feel the sense of disinterest in my everyday writing. Although there are many topics that ignite the passion within me we can’t always be writing on such topics. The interest, the passion has to be built up, it doesn’t just come.

  10. Completely agree with this one. Why not take a Saturday and Sunday and write great content and then give yourself five days off during the week? It makes sense and you will still be able to get all the content done you need.

    I know that I am doing this more often on my Blog. I think I am writing some of the best content I have ever written and the number one reason is this strategy.

  11. This is an excellent topic, and perfect timing for me. I found myself shifting in my seat as I read it! I try to bring my passion and exuberance into all of my writing projects, so the readers will feel the same excitement that I do.

    Oh, and Scott, you’ll find me leaning to the left. ;)

    Kimberlee

  12. That may be the funniest pic I’ve ever seen on Copyblogger.

    Nice article too, btw. I really enjoyed the main point. Part of it I think stems from our educational system. From the moment we are kids we are trained to fall in line, that our work is supposed to sound & look a certain way. If it’s not, chances are our grades suffer for it. We also need to be validated by a degree from someone of authority so we look credible. This stifles our creativity & originality making it so much harder to just get out there.

    That carries over into the corporate environment as well. If you don’t do your work a certain way, you’ll soon be out of it.

    While I am all for some structure, there’s that fine line between structure & stifle.

    Sometimes you just have to say the heck with it and try something altogether new.

  13. Body language in general is 93% of your total message; the words are only 7%. That’s one of the biggest reasons video is slowly being adopted across the web. But those of us who work for ourselves know that if you want to start your sales call off right you need to stand up and smile (even if we do forget it once in a while).

    One butt cheek sounds positively comfy after a stint of cold calling for freelance work! Thanks for the reminder of how important shaking up your routine can be.

    Liz
    twitter: elizam

  14. Beautiful piece. I cannot wait to hear Zander. Issac Stern once said that people do not pay to watch him play the violin, they pay to watch him enjoy playing the violin.

    (I am seeing the bloggasphere shift to one butt cheek as I type… now who’s going to be first out with the ergonomic “one butt cheek blogger chair” ?)

  15. Jon, my young niece always complained about being bored(i.e. a stale state of mind).

    I told her, “Perhaps YOU are boring.”

    Same with writing. Don’t look to the paper for inspiration; look within. Once you realize the seconds are ticking (and you shift your weight onto one cheek) you’ll find the inspiration you need.

    Regards
    Shane
    twitter:shanearthur

  16. I like the idea of thinking for a while about what to write. Most of the time when I write, I am either running or walking miles in the forest (really).

    I am not sure I agree with the one cheek thing. I play piano & sing professionally and if my posture is bad (sitting on one side of my back side), it affects what I am doing even when I am really into it. I think figuratively speaking the one cheek attention is correct, but not literally.

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/frank_dobner

    Frank

  17. “The only way you’ll make writing a career is if you can bring inspiration to your work, not the other way around.”

    Love it. Thanks for igniting my inspiration today.

  18. How to get people’s attention? Use the phrase ‘butt cheek’ in ANY blog post title! You make a great point. I was told by an editor the other day not to write articles for a broad audience, but to shoot from the hip and from the heart. Great points!

  19. “One of the hard parts about blogging is you can’t see people’s reactions. You can’t see their eyes sparkling or them leaning forward in their seats.”

    That’s so true. It’s why having comments is so important. Though it’s hard to get a loyal audience to read and comment regularly that one of the few things that can really provide you with the impact your work has on the readership. Unfortunately, the commenters are such a small fraction of the traffic.

  20. Great advice!

    I sometimes find it hard to give passion to what I’m writing about and just go through the motions. When I feel this way, I know that my post is lacklustre.

    I’ll try this and see what happens!

    Sanjeev

  21. I love Zander’s TED talk, has me almost in tears every time I watch it – first with laughter at his one-cheek piano playing and then at the lump-in-the-throat Chopin moment…

  22. MaryAnne: You’re welcome. I was hoping this might touch some people. Zander’s speech touched me.

    Frank: I agree with you. One butt cheek blogging is a metaphor, not a technique. Leaning forward on one butt cheek isn’t going to make you a better blogger. But being more engaged will. :-)

  23. LOL. Very fine pairing of post with image.

    Zander has a fantastic book called The Art of Possibility that goes into this idea, and many others, in wonderful detail. Highly recommended. (Which reminds me, I want to re-read it . . .)

  24. Love this! I actually saw a little gadget on TV the other day that straps over your shoulders and holds your laptop so you can type away while you’re walking. Maybe that’s our answer! ;-)

    *smiles*
    Michele

  25. You surely managed to make me smile this early morning! What an excellent post. Although humorous, you’re absolutely right! We all need to make a goal this year of One-Butt-Cheek blogging!

    Hopefully we won’t get too sore! ;-)

  26. After reading the post, It really got me thinking. Does this really work? As a musician, I have found myself when I start to get lazy while playing, I slowly lean back and get comfortable. It isn’t until I am upright and attentive that I get only the best out. This is really great advice. I never thought it would apply to writing but it will definitely be another block on which for me to stand from now on. I am so happy I found this site a little over a month ago.

    I would also like to point out my agreement with another Mark that posted a comment on the page. Throughout our learning stage of life (5-18), we are taught the way that “make sense”. It wasn’t until I got into music that I saw the error. Without the extraordinary thinking (no what “makes sense”) we would as adaptive as we are. I think rebellious thoughts bring all sorts of intuitive and cool changes to our societies. The problem is that many are to stuck on what “make sense” to go and do what business professions call Thinking Outside the Box.

    Thanks again Jon. I really appreciate your work along with the rest of the team here at Copyblogger. Without you, I would still be in the dark this stuff that seems like “duh” now.

  27. During “the long line from B to E” I thought of my mother who’s been gone since 1981 and thick tears fell with soft sobs – not so much of sadness but of longing for her good cheer and laughter and relentless encouragement. My dog came to me and put her paws up on my shoulders and licked my cheek, thinking I needed comforting. But I didn’t. I just needed the shift – the release – the reassurance that the line is bearable and there for a reason – and that at the end, we are indeed moved to lift up – whatever and whomever – we can.

  28. Jon,
    Thank you for Zander….a lovely gift this morning. Really. Thank you.

  29. Well, this is just weird enough to try.

    It’s the passion that first separates writers, I think. To not simply pass along information, but to do it with a voice and a flair that is actually a joy to read.

  30. Nice, thank you, I really needed that. I am a beginning blogger, writer for years but Tech Writing is a very stifled kind of writing, and I have always enjoyed creative writing, so it was a breath of fresh air to read your post here after having been carried away by several idea shifts into creating recently my fifth different blog page. Ha, maintaining one is hard, but I guess I have still be looking for what inspires me, so I really needed to read this.

    Scott, it’s okay to switch cheeks, ha.

  31. I’m a fan of living from the inside out and your write from the inside out is a perfect parallel.

    I really like your point about pouring yourself into it … it’s the difference between a columnist and reporter, a lesson learned from Marley & Me.

  32. Benjamin Zander has been spreading the one butt cheek methodology

    That made me laugh …

    but seriously, great idea.

  33. Good post – full of passion and interesting all the way through. I also love Benjamin Zander’s concept of “giving people an A.” Trust gets us so much farther than distrust, and it’s a great – and I think the right – default position for interacting with other people.

  34. Letting go of pretension breathes life and light into activity you love for the people you care about. Zander understands this truth because he apprehends universal truths; all universal truths make the eyes sparkle. His eyes sparkle, not because he sits on one cheek, but because he understands what matters. “I have a definition of success… It’s not about wealth and fame and power. It’s about how many shining eyes you have around you.”

  35. Too early to say best post of 2009? Maybe but sure that it’ll be in the top. And it’s not just the lesson (catching headline, good content attract readers) but the model too … when you have good content you get conversation. Thanks!

  36. Your thoughts influence your focus. And your focus influences your posture.

    It’s the whole “You do depression” deal. To be depressed you have say certain thinks and hold your body in a certain way.

    For example you can’t be depressed while smiling ear to ear with your shoulders relaxed and back.

    When we think downer thoughts we sabotage our focus and our body is in sync so it goes into loser mode.

    One of the ways Tony Schwartz of “Power of Engagement” fame learned from bull fighters was that when these guys go to school the first thing they teach them to do is the “Matador walk”.

    You know, head up and directly over the neck, shoulders relaxed and down, deep belly breathing, heel to toe sauntering like you own the stadium.

    Walk like this is “Your house!!!”

    Sitting in front of a computer with bad posture for years wreaks havoc on your spine. And just getting a spiffy new chair isn’t the answer.

    You need to deal with the source of the problem. Disengaged and compensating muscles.

    Two programs I found that dramatically helped me naturally walk like a matador and be pain free were:

    The Alexander Technique and…

    The Egoscue Method

    If you’re interested in alleviating pain in your body or optimizing your focus, google these two sources.

    They both kick booty cheek.

    Note Taking Nerd #2
    http://www.mynotetakingnerd.wordpress.com

  37. Peggy: Too early to say it’s the best post of 2009? Probably. Too early for me to accept flattery? Never. :-)

    Note Taking Nerd: I’ve been meaning to read Tony Schwartz’s book for some time now. It just keeps slipping past me. Thanks for the reminder. :-)

  38. Good concept that’s useful. This is a masterful piece. I am convinced you were engaged while writing it.

    I think another way of putting it is, you have to believe in what you’re writing.

  39. I have been earning my livelihood by blogging for 3 years and the most important thing that I have learnt is that never go for any short cut. I have seen many bloggers getting frustrated because they were looking for short cuts. You may get visitors easily but for keeping them you have to commit yourself and try to know about them.

  40. Benjamin Zander’s TED Talk is my favorite of all time. I’m glad to see it applied (literally).

  41. @ Jon Marrow: You say, “I agree with you. One butt cheek blogging is a metaphor, not a technique.”

    Thank goodness I spotted this. Otherwise, I would have been spending the rest of my blogging career typing while positioned on only one but cheek.

    Phew.

  42. What’s so good is that everyone gets something else from Zander’s talk. I posted it a couple of weeks ago in the context of parenting and engaging your kids.

    One subtle point that I think has application to bloggers who are trying to lead a community: Zander points out that his job as conductor means that he doesn’t produce a sound himself. But without him there’s just a terrible racket! When he’s there he unleashes enormous potential and empowers his orchestra to make magical music.

    For us then, the lesson is not only about how we write but how we use our writing to empower others to be creative.

    Best, Simon

  43. Try watching this page and see if the smiles wipe away your staleness. http://eeuauaughhhuauaahh.ytmnd.com/

    It works for me everytime.
    Regards
    Shane
    twitter: shanearthur

  44. I thought I needed to buy a new chair … looks like being uncomfortable might be a good thing.
    For me, rather than trying to right awesome posts, I just think about what interests me or what’s caught my attention during the day.
    The ‘awesome-ness’ usually follows if you’re writing about something near and dear to you.

  45. Sun fun to read your copy! And what a great example of an “open me now” headline!

  46. “Any longtime writer will tell you that you can’t wait for your work to inspire you. You’ll be waiting forever. The only way you’ll make writing a career is if you can bring inspiration to your work, not the other way around.”

    That is a really great advice.

  47. There I was, sat back in my chair, having just spent several hours at my computer, feeling lethargic, lackluster and lost.

    Then I came across copyblogger for the first time and WOW! What an article!

    My but cheek came right off the chair LOL!

    And now I am truly fired up and inspired.

    Thankyou!

  48. LOL! This fits perfectly with my whole Blogger Butt phenom at Back in Skinny Jeans.

    You know if you switch the butt cheek from side to side you can not only get good content but a workout for the maximus :)

  49. Hmmm, what did it for me is your “Write from the inside out”. If only more writers write that way, we will have lots of interesting stuff to read. Many people make the mistake of thinking they have to concentrate on pleasing other people. Writing from the inside out focuses on writing that which pleases you and makes you feel good on the inside. If you are pleased with what you have written, then it’s most likely that others will be pleased with it as well. Thanks for sharing.

  50. No one else think that this article is half-assed?

  51. Great post! Passion makes such a difference in the results you get. And, where did you find that image? It’s priceless!

    I didn’t know about Brian’s hematoma. I bet that felt like a herd of wildebeest was rampaging through his head. Ouch!

  52. Good one, Gabriel. :-)

  53. I’ve only been subscribed to copyblogger for a couple of weeks, but I’m already extremely impressed by the high quality of your content. I can only guess at how much work must go into each post, so a big WELL DONE to you! With best regards & many thanks, Paul. :)

  54. I have a few drafts that I gave up on. I didnt really care about them that much to complete them and publish them. If you dont care, they wont either.

    The posture point is very interesting as well. I must try that when I’m speed writing.

  55. It’s not so much a matter of writing on one butt cheek but the idea of allowing the work to stimulate you emotionally, therefore affecting those that read what you write and being taken by it as well because of your engagement with what you express. That is the lesson and understanding Mr. Zander is speaking about in the video.

    That is essentially what he is saying and the one butt cheek is an analogy in order to induce that.

    Writing is playing from the heart.

    Thanks you for posting.

  56. I’m glad that I happened to stumble across this post. I found that I was shifting my weight forward, back and from side to side while I was reading it.

    I often have a difficult time “getting into” my articles when I first start out and often I pace the room while I am thinking. I’ll have to try looking at it from this perspective.

    Tim

  57. Hi there, Dan from sitbetter here!
    I’m the sort, who is always leaning back, but I guess my punishment is being eternally uninspiring! (might be because my terribly expensive ergonomic chair encourages me to do so!).
    But I can see what you mean, it’s just like body language, there are subliminal things you can do with your body to get the brain more involved in the event. I’ll have to bring that up with a couple of the chair manufacturers!

  58. Awesome post — I especially like the name. Very catchy.

    Also, excellent advice and thank you for the article.

  59. This fits perfectly with my whole Blogger Butt phenom at Back in Skinny Jeans.

    You know if you switch the butt cheek from side to side you can not only get good content but a workout for the maximus