Michael Shook
Jul 19 · 3 min read

It’s all about how you make them feel

man on a road through a forest thinking about how a piece of writing made him feel
man on a road through a forest thinking about how a piece of writing made him feel
Image courtesy of Free-Photos via Pixabay

When you’re a writer, you need to write headlines or titles in a way that grabs attention. You need to stick out in a sea of sameness because you want people to click on your story, or choose your book.

But that’s only the first hurdle to overcome.

What you need after that is for them to read your work and understand it in a way that changes their life. Otherwise, you’ve wasted your time and wasted theirs as well.

You want your work to stand out. You want to be a positive change in the lives of your readers.

Even if you’re writing a story of sadness or rage, you still want your reader to empathize with the characters in your story. And that’s a positive change in their lives.

How emotion works when you’re writing instructional manuals or recipes

Who needs emotion in instruction manuals or recipes? You do if you’re the writer.

Do you want your readers to be able to follow your directions and achieve their goal without frustration? Do you want them to be happy when they can reproduce your results in their own lives?

That’s the kind of emotion you want to make sure is in your writing — that desire for your readers to be successful. If you write directions for napkin folding or even recipes for hot dog biscuits, and your readers experience success, they will remember that feeling.

And they’ll remember you.

If you write directions and they don’t experience success or worse experience utter failure, they’ll remember that feeling.

And they’ll remember you too.

How emotion works when you’re writing real-life or fiction stories

Lots of writers write to produce content. That’s their sole purpose. They want to publish enough words so that someone, somewhere, will click on something in some way, so they can get paid.

This is the kind of schlock that gets passed around on Facebook. A headline which draws you in and a link which leads to a site packed full of pop-ups, pop-unders, dynamic footers and headers, opt-in overlays and native ads inserted in between sentences of the story. Do you really want to be the writer that cause readers to be so confused they don’t know what to do?

“There is an exclusive circle in Hell reserved for writers who write to induce confusion and accidental clicks. Interestingly, if you wind up there, the first thing you receive in your Welcome Package is a 666-page pdf file telling you exactly how to get out of hell; as long as you allow push notifications.” … Michael Shook

Far and away, though, the majority of writers are good people doing good work in the world. Since you’re this type of writer, the most important thing for you to do is make sure your writing helps readers feel.

The secret to helping your readers feel emotion

You have to care about the subject about which you are writing. If you don’t, every person who reads your work is going to know that.

This is the reason why it makes no sense for you to shop through popular topics to write on for which you couldn’t care less.

When you spend your writing energy on topics you love; on subjects that stir your soul, make you cry, or make you laugh, your reader can feel that.

They may or may not feel the same way, as you. In fact, they might feel exactly the opposite.

But they are going to remember you.

There have been enough words written that have no soul; none of us need to write a single word more like that. You’ve got ideas you care passionately for, write about those. You’ve got stories that have changed your life, write about those. You’ve got experiences from which you’ve built your life, write about those.

When you do that enough times so that people rely on being able to understand and enjoy your work, you’re going to be that writer people seek out because they want the feeling your writing delivers.

Be your authentic yourself more often, and your readers will remember the words you write and how you made them feel. And they’ll seek your writing out so they can feel that way over and over.


Discover the best up and coming writers. You'll say you knew them when.

Michael Shook

Written by

Plain-spoken writer with strong opinions. Sees the world differently and writes about it that way.


Discover the best up and coming writers. You'll say you knew them when.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade