Write without sounding bossy?

All online articles are opinions. Whether they are aware of it or not, authors present their view of a subject. Yet often they are trying to sell it as a truth, unconsciously.

I’m guilty of having done that myself, many times. But who am I to claim a universal truth from my observations? And no, citing a scientific study does not make my point true, it’s merely a means of transparent reasoning. Working in scientific publishing for over a decade I learned that even the best science carries a fair bit of subjectivity and error.

So, why not admit this?

I wrote this step-by-step guide for myself, not to define a fixed structure, but to have some sort of checklist I can walk through when I write a new piece.

1. Make it personal

Nobody can argue with my realizations and experiences. If I provide excellent reasoning, people can open their minds to something new. On the contrary, if what I say is flawed or wrong, it allows the reader to correct me without losing their face.

2. What would I google?

To each problem, there is an underlying question. I ask myself: What would I have googled when that question came to my mind the first time?

  • Avoid plastic?

  • Cook healthy, fast?

  • Respond to somebody shouting at me?

In many cases, the question can be used as the title of my publication.

3. Why did it matter to me?

I relate the question to my life situation. Why did I want the question answered so desperately?

For example, I wrote this guide because I am convinced that we can benefit extremely from exchanging experiences with each other. And being radically honest while doing so. The internet seems to be full of people who want to convince me of their opinion. I don’t want to sound like them.

4. Failures

If it was important for me, it was probably hard. How often did I fail? And in how many ways? Was I close to giving up? What kept me going?

With my platform Ken, I encourage people to write about their experiences. To gain insight for themselves and to help others, facing similar challenges. Many of the texts we usually publish sound bossy. It seems we are trained in school to sound smart. It’s really hard to undo this.

5. Realisation

Now I describe that moment when it clicked. How did I connect the dots? What solution did I come up with?

When reading posts on social media, news, or blogs, I realized that the worst kind of debates arise when someone tries to “be right”. It particularly bothers me when I read pieces that I’d agree on, but feel like the author is preaching towards me. Am I the only one feeling like that?

At one moment I realized that if I reference a personal experience to make my point, this bossiness in my text magically goes away.

6. Rewrite

Now after I’ve included all the ingredients, it’s the perfect time to review the structure and rewrite my text. I review the intention of each sentence. Why did I say it? What would be missing if I left out that sentence?

During rewriting this text, I realized that I used many buzzwords, which I exchanged for neutral formulations. Some parts I found not to be precise, others redundant. And I found paragraphs that didn’t add much and removed them.

I’ll keep rewriting this and hope it already guides me towards becoming a better writer.

And not only do I want to become a better writer myself, but I also want to inspire other people to do so too. For as much as my capacity allows it, I’ll provide free feedback and copy editing to pieces published on Ken. I love to learn how other people see the world, and I’ve found reviewing and editing articles to be a great way of exchanging knowledge.

Published by Michael Aufreiter on Jan 23, 2022
Revised on Sep 20, 2022
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