3 powerful secrets to write powerfully


Part of this post is a response to this article about writing. The author provided some handy analysis on how to get more hearts. (If I put the word “recommendations” last sentence, my writing level is too high.)

You will also notice that the average sentence has twelve to fifteen words. According to the article, that will be worth twenty percent more recommendations. Big question. If I write at a tenth grade level, it is the second highest score, but I don’t have to sound like an idiot. What to do?

I will stick to my guns, using the handy Hemingway editor provided by Mr. McCready. I do like you, Ryan. I just think your premise is part of the problem with this data-driven cluster f*ck society. (F*ck did not affect my grade level! As a matter of fact, it seems to have reduced it back to fourth grade. I’m going to have to work in some advanced polysyllabic words to get back into the sweet spot. Damnit, that last sentence did not help. Is this program penalizing me for swearing, albeit in a self-censored way? Keeping an eye on the editor’s real time scoring, it seems I have lost the ability to write complex sentences, as I hover between the fourth and fifth grade level. Not even the previous, multi clause, and wholly unnecessary sentence has done any good toward the goal of returning to the sixth grade.) Okay, I just made it. Now I can continue with the point of this post.

1. Write from the heart, if you have one

All the self-improvement, start-up, and entrepreneurial posts by the Gods of Medium combined can’t hold a candle to the emotional power of this one story.

It’s been one week since her story published and am I the only person who read it? How is this possible? Ryan, try reading her story and tell me about how Medium is a “democratic haven where the most interesting articles will excel.”

These antiseptic regurgitations of popular social science leave me cold and bored. Even if I unfollow the dominant “writers” on Medium, if one of my favorite writers recommend a story, it shows up in my feed.

Please don’t follow these absurd ideas. They are neither a measure of good writing technique nor unleashing our ability as humans to think and feel and explore.

The writings of people who have suffered are the only ones that ring true. I’m talking about you, Vincent, and Abby, and Heather. Only through the forge of personal suffering, come the hilarious raging insights of Holly. Or the innocent questioning by Talia.

I’m not sure about the personal histories of my favorite humorists, but I assume all you clowns were outcasts, like me. Or, somebody really pissed you off because of a bad burrito. Or you’ve been stuck in too many stupid corporate meetings.

Nobody gives a rat’s ass about your thousands of followers (sorry Ellie, you’ll have to buy a K jacket if you want one). But if you can make us burst out laughing just once in a post, you’ve got more talent than 95% of the sitcom writers in Hollywood.

I was lucky to have had a rough, but not too rough childhood. At different times, each one of my parents abandoned me, only to come back and try to heal our relationship. (That’s what saved me.) Every friend I had either died early, moved away, or ended up in a rehab facility. And I had my share of run-ins with authority. Looking back, all I can say is I was lucky to have been a white kid.

The pain I’ve experienced has been a blessing. Too much, and the damage might have destroyed me. Too little and I would actually be this guy.

I know what it feels like to be in so much physical pain that it consumes your every thought. The fear of the next wave of pain is almost worse torture than the pain itself. I have felt the desperation of searching for a position that doesn’t hurt. I have made that deal with the devil where I would be willing to stay in a wheelchair for the rest of my life if there was no more pain. And I’m not proud to admit that it only took a few hours for me to reach that point.

I was relieved to pass through that torture chamber on a one day pass. For so many people, pain is all they know, twenty-four hours a day. It helped me understand my mom. She refused to exercise after surviving a horrible car accident that left her with an artificial hip and knee, and a torn rotator cuff.

2. Write what you’ve lived, if you have a life

(Exclusions: rich narcissists born on third base who think they hit a home run. People who actually believe the saying “it’s crowded here at the center of the universe.” And hateful idiots whose only purpose is to spread their disease to as many people as possible.)

I was lucky to have been born in a diverse city in this country at a time when civil rights reached critical mass. I was never chased home from school by a group of kids yelling “Christ killer” and “kike.” Ninety years later, and tears still well up in my dad’s eyes when he tells the story.

Today, we watch a return to the worst of mob hatred as Herr Drumpf emcees his latest reality show. With so many cuts in education and no more civics classes, are we destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?

I was lucky to have been born at a time when my parents could buy a house, pay for college and save for retirement. Thirty years earlier, and I would have been a child of the Great Depression. Thirty years later, and I’d be another millennial living with my parents.

This new generation has got a lot in common with the Greatest Generation. I hope you outdo them. Do it sooner rather than later, especially because of the upcoming election.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a husband and father, and always in the game, no matter what life has thrown at us.

Is it any wonder that I read and write about all the subjects I do, plus anything else that catches my interest?

Don’t be afraid to disappoint your legion of followers. It’s not like your livelihood depends on writing for Medium. If people like your style, voice and perspective, they’ll be happy to see you explore something new. You can’t keep writing the same jaded snarky posts forever, and your readers probably feel the same way.

3. Have fun with it.

Which is exactly why I will post this article multiple times with small changes in the title, because when the article said to publish on Tuesday or Saturday to optimize recommends by at least 33%, I have to ask what time zone? It’s already 9:30 p.m. in Australia, so I’ve almost wasted the whole day there.

At this point I will describe in detail the trials and tribulations of having prostate problems. It’s a subject I know quite well. It almost killed my dad. And, I need some extra filler in order to get my article up to the magic six minute read. That’s worth 20–40% more recommends. Combine that with the 25% bonus for writing like a sixth grader, 20% bonus for 12–15 word sentences, 43% bonus for easy to read sentences, 21% bonus for use power words like powerful (shouldn’t I get a 42% bonus for using the word twice?), 20% bonus for sentence title case title, 25% increase for a call to action, and 33% increase for publishing on a Tuesday. By my calculations, that’s about a 217% increase in recommendations. In other words, I should have about 126 hearts for this post, 401 for the one after that, and 1,272 for the third post.

If you made it this far, and agree with this rant, show your support by exploring the great writers I’ve linked to.

Please recommend this post (❤) so your followers can change their lives forever, too! Just make up a few extra profiles, so you can vote extra times. If my mom knew how to use a computer, she would create hundreds of profiles to upvote her baby, if she were still around.

[UPDATE 5/29:STEP EIGHT, follow this guide and you can skip steps one through seven!]

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