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What does ‘space’ have to do with writing?

space is important in writing

Life is busy.

Life offers us so much – it is noisy. Ideas, services, products compete for our attention. Even the things or people we love can feel demanding.

We only have so much time and energy to go round. A day assaulted by the thoughts, feelings and offers of others leaves us drained and desperate to switch off (it can’t be just me, surely?).

What does that mean for us as writers, especially people writing about and for our businesses?

We want people’s attention. We want to show them why our thing (whatever that may be) is good for them. But there’s a danger we just add to the noise. We put stuff out there and it gets ignored. We don’t feel seen.

Here’s what I notice. The reader needs to feel seen. They need to be part of the exchange you’re having. And for that, they need space. They don’t want to be bombarded or convinced. They want to be in charge of their own attention and decision making.

If we are in a conversation with someone, it’s likely they’ll soon be annoyed if we talk over them all the time, if we don’t let them in. If we don’t listen.

And our written words can do this too. People are sick of being told things. They want to be invited, and have the chance to make up their own mind.

How can we do that with our writing?

With space.

Literally. Using short sentences and having space between paragraphs will help. Your reader will have that space to process, to bring themselves into the conversation.

They might ponder their own questions, or you might put questions to them (another invitation for them to be part of the exchange). Give them space to respond. Create an atmosphere of inviting, rather than bullying in your writing. Yes, you want them to buy your stuff. But you want them to come to that decision themselves, freely.

If you give them space, you’ve set up the exchange as one they’re already feeling good about. They’re not coming warily, waiting for it to all go wrong. They’re coming wholeheartedly, because they chose to. They are expecting good things, which means they are more likely to experience good things.

So whether you’re writing a book, blog, article or web copy, imagine your reader’s in the room with you. At what point would you want them to respond? Give them that space.

Apparently it was musician Claude Debussy who first said ‘Music is the space between the notes.’ I love this insight. Without space, it’s all just noise. A cacophony of chaos. I find that in my own life too.

I was one of the rare people who found relief in lockdown. Yes, there were some emotionally testing times, but removed from the pressure to dash here, there and everywhere I had time to relax into being. I messed about with watercolours alongside my children, and found a quiet, blissful buzz in creating loose, fluid, simple pictures. I created Wordspill, which will continue beyond lockdown and I think become a major part of my work in the future (because I love it and I love what it can do for people).

Space between events in life isn’t time wasted. It’s necessary down time, processing time, unconsciously connecting the dots time. Listening to self time.

Space between words and ideas in writing isn’t wasted either. It brings your reader with you. It honours them, and consciously or not, they will value you all the more for it.

I have decided to run the Wordspill month of writing, renamed ‘Wordspill One’ (as I’m busy coming up with lots of other Wordspills – told you I have fire in my belly about this!) in September, starting August 31st 2020.

If you feel like a month of having chance to ‘just write’ with guided prompts, and reflect within a private group of supportive people is what you need to create space to listen to yourself, please do join me. You can find out all about it here.

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