The secret behind your most successful stories
What does make stories written from the bottom of your heart so powerful?
A few days ago I met a good friend of mine who used to by my life coach. Since we hadn’t seen each other for a very long time, we had a lot to catch up on. She embarked on her entrepreneurial journey, and I started writing.
I love her ability to ask the right questions and thus helping you to find the direction in whatever you want/need to do. If it wasn’t for her, I would be still wondering what people like about my stories (even though I had it right under my nose, face-palm).This was probably one of those crucial conversations that helped me step up my writing game.
She asked me: ‘So, what do you write about?’ Even though I narrowed down the range of topics I want to focus on some time ago, this questions still surprises me. The very first thing I always have in my mind is: “Well, that is kind of difficult to explain. It’s a bit of this and a bit of that, you know a mix of everything.
When I started writing, I struggled because there are so many cool subjects you can transform into amazing stories. Don’t you think? Choosing one particular topic is difficult. There is no specific rule telling you-you should focus only on one. Once I realised that I stopped limiting myself.
To find the right reason you have to ask the right question(s)
Then she asked me:
‘Why these topics specifically and how do you know you are successful? How do you know people people like it?
She caught me unprepared. My answer? Ehm….I don’t know. Just for the record, it’s not all the claps we get from our readers. I mean, they help, but they are not always relevant.
If you check your Medium stats from time to time, you can see that some of your readers like an article without spending ‘an estimated time’ reading it. So do claps reflect on the success of your writing? I don’t think so.
Your writing is not only about the topic you and your readers like. I consider the way you engage with your readers and community to be more important. Not just in your responses, but throughout an actual article or story, as well.
My friend gave me a good advice: ‘Try to find and see what it is that makes your articles stand out? What does bring your readers back to your stories? What elements in your stories help them to connect with the narrative? Then you’ll find out what makes your stories unique and engaging. Successful. It depends what you consider success. For me, it’s not as much about claps (or only about them) as it is about growing my community and see people returning to old and new stories I publish.
The first thing that came to my mind was: “But some of my best stories were the most painful ones!” Isn’t it weird that people reconnect with my pain? No, it’s not.
I went back to some of the stories I wrote and some of the other ones I read on Medium and other platforms. After taking a closer look, I saw where the magical connection happens.
Every story you write has one central point or element you develop your narrative around.
It’s precisely this one thing your readers connect to in your story. It varies based on a type of an article or a story you write. I mean, people like different things. Some people get excited about a car review, some about the tasty-sounding recipe, some appreciate a good drama and some just like it spicy ;)
So, what makes a good story?
It allows your readers to become the part of a story itself.
It happens when your readers can feel the happiness or sorrow you feel, when they can laugh or cry with you, when they are anxiously awaiting what will be your next steps in the story. A good story comes straight from your heart.
The reason why people like your story, article or whatever you write it’s because they can adapt it to their own reality. In the end, isn’t that what we always try to do?
We look for similarities, so we can associate ourselves with stories and experiences that others share with us.
We are out there, hoping that we aren’t the only ones going through the pain, having some guilty or pleasure thoughts. We want to share we are experiencing an insane joy, an explosion of emotions, and we hope that whoever reads it can experience it too. One of the best sources out there to see what my readers really like were their responses to the stories or different highlights within them. Have you tried this exercise? If not, go and read through those comments, please.
What does it mean to connect with your readers?
Where the readers’ community connected strongly were the stories where I was able to show vulnerability, honesty, call things by their real name, provided hope, motivation and shared my own stories and experience in true colours. Telling people naked truth can have a profound effect on them.
Here are some selected response from some of my readers:
‘I see you also speak about your struggle(s)…’
‘…it helped me to catch up with my fears…’
‘…I so appreciate your honesty, we keep reaching out to shiny, happy experiences, but scary and painful is part of our life, too. ..’
‘We did the same thing. We quit our job and travelled around the world. That happened 40 years ago.’
It’s one of the most beautiful things to see people opening up, be willing to share their own stories, share their joy, their fears and occasionally also ask for help.
It’s not always easy to tell certain things to the world. But knowing there is someone out there who went or is going through a similar thing helps. It’s great to see your stories can transform people’s thinking and help them believe they are not on their own in this world. At least this is what makes my heart jump with joy when I read through people’s responses. Then I know my articles give them some added value.
And this is the power a story written from your heart can have.