You battle an insidious enemy every time you sit down to write, and it usually wins.
It squeezes the impact out of your ideas, leaving a limp and lifeless copy carcass laid to rest in your text editor.
It’s your emotional needs filter, and it’s draining the message out of your message.
What’s an emotional needs filter? It’s a filter you’re running your ideas through when you write.
Whenever you feel like you’re taking a risk, an emotional response is triggered. Your emotional needs feel threatened. The filter is engaged, and your bold copy turns into a big puddle of boringness.
The good news is that this filter is only winning because you’re letting it. It’s actually possible to simply decide not to do that anymore, at which point you can actually use the tried-and-true techniques that you already know (instead of just knowing about them) and write great content.
Here’s how to ensure your content doesn’t get choked to death before it reaches your audience.
You have ideas. Ideas that come to you out of nowhere, electrifying you with inspiration. You know the ones I’m talking about.
There are lots of people out there just waiting to stumble upon your ideas because they provide the perfect solutions to their own problems.
Those people are salivating, ready to jump at your ideas like a great white shark to a sea lion. All you have to do is successfully deliver those ideas to them.
But the problem is that those ideas don’t make it from your brain to your finished copy. Your emotional needs filter kills them before you can click “publish.” And no one’s problems get resolved.
There are three components at play here:
- You want approval
- You want control
- You want security
These emotional responses are convincing you to suffocate your ideas.
Blast through these roadblocks and you will actually solve the problems of your audience instead of peddling to them.
You’ll define a niche instead of chasing one.
You’ll attract a tribe instead of imagining one.
Stop wanting approval
You want everyone to like you.
You’re tweaking, editing, re-wording, and omitting important parts of your ideas based solely on that. Your desire for everyone’s approval is killing your content, which in turn is getting you lost in the crowd.
Wanting everyone’s approval is pointless for two primary reasons:
- It will never happen
- It’s not useful to you or your audience
The fact is that it’s not your job to get approval. It’s your job to put your unique and creative ideas into a form that communicates them effectively.
If you keep your message true to the source, there will be people who love it. There will also be people who hate it. That’s a guarantee.
And you actually want it that way. If everyone is neutral to your content because you’ve watered it down like cheap beer, it’s not helping anyone.
Stop wanting control
You want to control everything.
You want to control how everybody reacts to your content, what they say about it, and what they do with it.
And that’s just the beginning. You also want to control how they perceive you, what they say about you, and what they do for you, too. And that’s still just the beginning.
Obviously, writing to influence your audience to take certain actions is helpful and recommended. But you’re taking it to extremes.
Let go of wanting to control everything and your ideas will actually make it into the minds of your audience.
Yes, some will dislike it, but your tribe will love it!
Stop wanting security
You want to survive.
You perceive other writers as competition, and that seems threatening. There are so many out there vying for your audience. You’ve got to make sure that you don’t offend any readers. You’ve got to make sure that you do nothing to turn readers away. Socially domesticating your content seems like the perfect solution!
Stop doing that.
Wanting security is causing you to publish bland, cliché, or just plain milquetoast content that actually works against your end goals.
Attracting an audience that is crazy about your ideas is paramount to your security. You can do that by keeping your message true to the source.
Notice when the emotional needs filter kicks in
When you write, let your creativity flow in all its glory. Say what you really want to say. Get it all down.
When you revise and edit, make sure it’s for the necessities: punctuation, conciseness, coherence, etc. Follow the tried and true mechanical and strategic guidelines.
But when you are making your edits, be sure that you’re not engaging your emotional needs filter. Go through the checklist below when you find yourself hitting the backspace key:
- Am I making this change because I want everyone’s approval?
- Am I making this change because I want to control everything?
- Am I making this change because I’m obsessing over security?
If the answer to all three is “no,” you’re in good shape.
But if you answer “yes” to any of those, step away from the keyboard.
Don’t strangle the life out of your valuable message. Toss the emotional needs filter in the trash. It’s never done you any good, anyway.