By: Marilyn L. Davis
Igniting and Satisfying Your Reader’s Curiosity
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.—”Old Man’s Advice to Youth: ‘Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.'” LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955) p. 64” ― Albert Einstein
Readers are curious; they either need information, or they’re just interested in a topic. When you consider that there are 40,000 search inquiries every second or over 3.5 billion searches per day, that helps you understand that people are actively looking for information.
According to tests reported by Mae Rice, “Curiosity and “wanting to know” are synonymous, so it’s not particularly shocking that curiosity originates in the “wanting” region of the brain. When you take a step back, though, these results are striking. We want to gain knowledge in much the same we want to eat to stay alive. We’re basically hard-wired to yearn for information. It’s no wonder we’re living in an information age — or that you’re reading a website called Curiosity.”
We’re All Excited about Something
Wanting to know and needing to know in our information age is simple, just Google, Bing, or Quora something and you’ll find the how-to, studies, gain further understanding of your interest, or just be entertained.
So what are readers curious about? Some general topics ignite the reader’s interest:
• Other people
• Famous people
• Good food, good books, good movies
• What is the market doing?
• How can I improve my finances?
• Why is the moon in Jupiter?
• Is there something I can do to help others?
• Why does my faucet leak?
• What is love?
• What is my purpose?
• How can I write better?
Frankly, it would be impossible to create an exact list for this post; however, as a writer, you know what piques your curiosity.
Igniting the Writer’s Creativity and Curiosity
Curiosity and “wanting to know” are synonymous, so it’s not particularly shocking that curiosity originates in the “wanting” region of the brain. Our interest initially translates as an idea, further developed based on research, added links to the topic, and visually pleasing images, which will satisfy you as a writer and attract the right reader.
But to share that excitement with our readers, they have to find us. We have to give them clues that our post will meet their needs, provide them with information, or merely entertain them.
To find us, we have to write concisely to get their attention and ignite their interest. To do this, we must have:
- Titles that ignite their interests
- Summaries that capture their imagination or intention
- Original, value-added content
If You Taught Them Once, Don’t Try the Same Approach Twice
While we may have gotten loyal followers and readers, we cannot rest on our laurels; we’ve got to ignite their curiosity each time we publish.
How often though do we trap ourselves thinking there is nothing new, and we are hesitant to write about the same subject? We create the illusion that it’s been written about enough, or that we cannot write about it differently.
That is not true. We fall into this type of faulty thinking when we don’t ask ourselves questions about the topic.
Curiosity Stimulates the Brain
Using our curiosity means our brains are active. Beyond feeling good from the dopamine, studies of older people found those who remained curious lived longer than those in the study group who identified as satisfied with their level of awareness.
When we are curious about a subject, we view it differently. We look for the:
Our perspective doesn’t have to be unique. Others may share this viewpoint as well. What is distinctive is how we frame our perspective. It’s the specific choice of words, phrases, and images that make the post ours. As writers, we can capture the subject from multiple perspectives and interpret the topic from a point of view that is uniquely our own.
Stop Comparing the Writing
But sometimes, when we’re curious about what others are writing on the subject and start doing our own research, we start comparing. While all of us would like to present our information in the best possible manner, comparing ourselves to other writers can create one of the main reasons for writer’s block – perfectionism, procrastination and the feelings of inadequacy.
Rather than be afraid to write from your perspective, look at how others are writing about the topic and realize that your perspective and word-choice are what attracted your followers.
They like the way you write.
Flipboard is a gold mine for writers; there are over 34,000 topics. These articles give writers an opportunity to learn more about a topic, but just as importantly, see which perspectives coincide with ours, or if a particular aspect of the subject is under-reported and perhaps that is where our perspective could fill the void for readers. When you think a subject has been written about well, look to see if there are other aspects of the subject that are overlooked or underdeveloped.
That may just be a niche or category that needs your writing. When we read articles by others, we should pay attention to:
1. What are others writing about the topic?
2. Are all perspectives adequately explored?
3. Was the article well written?
4. Did the article have better images, videos or other visuals?
A Rehash Doesn’t Ignite or Interest Anyone
I think too many writers believe that because an earlier post they wrote did well with views and comments that they found the “formula”, so they continue to write, format and publish the same information in the same fashion.
Sure, readers found you once, but if their return visit closely resembles the previous two, readers will probably get bored. There’s nothing to satisfy their curiosity – they know what you’ll write.
This lack of passion for the writing just smacks of complacency in my opinion. Some of you may think that sounds harsh, however, how many times do you want to read the same thing?
For example, I know that the storyline is the same on what used to be a favorite TV show:
1. There will be a heinous crime
2. Suspects will be interviewed
3. Clues will be found
4. The killer will be caught
5. The legal system will usually prevail
That was the formula.
And frankly, some nights I would pick sleep over Stabler. Eventually, I just gave up watching because I knew what was going to happen, and it didn’t matter if the crime was slightly altered, the formula remained the same.
Don’t let that happen to your writing.
If you think your writing has gotten tedious and boring, then it might be time to expand your circle of influence, those areas of your life where you have control.
Curiosity is Contagious
I certainly don’t believe that I write like a sage – all-wise and sharp each time. However, my curiosity means that I do study how to write more effectively, distinctly, and purposefully.
Will this curiosity and study translate into a “viral” post tomorrow? I have no way of knowing that, but I do know that it will get me closer to my goal of being a better writer, which goes beyond grammar, syntax, revising, and editing.
It’s taking the topic and giving readers an “Aha” moment in a how-to, a reason to reflect on their lives in a memoir piece, a brief moment of clarity that cultural differences do not negate human similarities or words that inspire another to become a better person or writer.
So, what are you curious about today? Can you translate that into an excellent post?
Don’t have a blog? Then consider submitting a post to Two Drops of Ink, because I’m curious to learn more from others.