The fun thing and the not-so-fun thing about writing is it can be a lifelong journey to improve your writing skills. And the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know, but one of our passions that flourished writers is you gotta start! Like you, you don’t become better by waiting to become better.
Your writing skills become better by writing. Then growing as you do it. So it’s one of the ways that we have to just enter into the mess and be satisfied with doing the best we can showing up with the best we can, because showing up is the first step to growth.
If you’re a writer or dreaming to improve your writing skills, you’re going to love my special guest today, Mindy Kiker. Mindy is co-founder of FlourishGathering and FlourishWriters with ministry partner, Jenny Kochert. For those desiring to write their God Story, she is a guide who helps birth the story from the heart to the page. Each year they hold a 3-week summit which I’ve been privileged to be a part of, including right now, October 6-31 of 2022. The conference mission is for participants to:
- Translate their message into words on a page.
- Cultivate their unique voice.
- Transform rough drafts into polished prose.
- Create an author brand and marketing plan, and
- Choose the best publishing route for their project.
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How about a refresher?
So true confession, this episode is an AOM rewind from our very first season during the Flourish Writer’s Conference when Mindy joined me, but we’ve picked up many viewers since then. I know I myself could use a refresher on how to write better. So today, here is a shortened version of Mindy’s interview and may I just say she is just as lovely one on one as she is talking to a crowd.
In fact, she interviewed me for the Flourish conference this year, talking about the need to write email that connect with the pain points of our readers, so be sure to grab your ticket to the conference through the link in the shownotes. Mindy’s passion for people was energized over a decade in South Africa where she worked in Adult Education, Community Development, and Entrepreneurship. Mindy makes her home in Florida with her husband and four sons.
Everyone who’s listening to this to affirm your desire to be a communicator to others, that very desire that you have a message on your heart is your qualification. It’s not your degree and it’s not your training. It’s your, the message that’s on your heart. So the first word I have for you is like a pre-tip, Ruthie.
Your writing skills pre-tip
The first pre-tip is to accept that call and say yes to it. And then that gets your feet on the path, right? And I was reflecting as I was preparing for today. I was reflecting on, so what qualifies us and I wanted to offer a little challenge to your listeners to think back through their life.
It’s super fun to just track back through your life and see how your life circumstances have equipped you. I think that will be a big part of your motivation and encouragement that you are called.
1. Be clear on your purpose for writing
My first tip Ruthie is to be clear on your purpose for writing. I recommend that whatever it is, you’re wanting to write. You know, some of you might be writing very short pieces, an Instagram post, a blog post.
Slightly longer pieces, maybe a personal essay, a devotional. You might be launching out on a book writing project. If you can capture what it is you want to say in one sentence that is going to set the foundation for you to stay clear. On what it is you’re saying. So the first tip is to be clear on your purpose.
And I challenge you to write one sentence that explains in nice, clear language. What is this about? So whether, no matter what your project is, is that what you’re saying? Yes. All right. Yeah. Big, you need to be clear on your purpose because what readers don’t like. Is to be uncertain of where you’re taking them.
They’re going to decide to read this or not because they’ve got a vested interest you’re meeting a need that they have, and that leads into point number two is be clear on your value. Okay. So what value are you wanting to give to your reader by writing this? And oftentimes new writers come.
Where their purpose and their value is to talk about themselves.
Your readers want to find they’re reading what you have to say because they are looking for something for them.
2. Be clear on your value
And then number two was how does it bring value to them? Right. Yup. Be clear on your value and it’s not about you. It’s about them. So you gotta be channeling. What is it? My reader needs. What is keeping them up at night? What is eating their lunch? That’s what you’re talking to. And I recommend that you hook them in.
You’ve got to have a hook everybody’s trolling and scrolling, and it’s going to catch them. Humor is amazing. Um, a little bit of making fun of yourself that self-deprecation not, you know, not overdo that, but people like to have you show up as an imperfect. Person who is you’re competent and you’re successful in what you’re offering, but you’re also humble, approachable, and just fun.
So my first tip is be clear on your purpose. Get that one sentence that becomes your, your guideline so that you, you don’t get off track into bunny trails. I always say banish the bunny trails.
Number two is be clear on your value. People want to be able to connect with you. You got to have something to hook them in, to see you as a real person who has something of tremendous value to give them. And you do. That’s my affirmation to you.
3. Use clear language
And number three is use clear language. Ooh. For the love of all that is beautiful.
Please don’t mess it up with complicated sentences, complicated language. We always talk about being concrete, not abstract. And being specific, not general. So you can make a general statement, but then you better follow it up with, it’s a nice specific concrete example. So that’s what I’m going to do right now with one of my little Instagram posts.
You can judge the quality of it. I’m not saying it’s my best one, but it has some examples that I, that I liked because I’m super big on. Analogies and word pictures, people love word pictures. They take your abstract concepts, steps, this big thing. You’re feeling this big thing you want to communicate and it puts it into a relatable.
Important for writing skills: relate your experience back.
Picture experience something that people can latch onto and they remember your analogies, your, you know, you’re wanting everything you put out, you’re wanting it to be sticky. They’re reading how many thousands of words a day. You want your words to stick that when they go to bed at night and they put their head on the pillow, they’re like, dang, I love what she said today.
So, so here’s an example for my son’s 20th birthday. I said, “We celebrate often one way to extend a birthday is the last day of festivities. The day before the big day milestones create rock cairns, making a turn in the trail, calling to others. I paused here on my journey, adding my peace to all who passed before, making the way for others.
We paused last night to place a stone on the Kiker family cairn by celebrating our firstborns last day of 19. This mama has swirling sweet and salty feelings. It’s like sailing and strong winds, thrilling and terrifying requiring not only skill, but also submission to the forces of nature. My face drips with saltwater.
“Big feelings can make more sense as word pictures.”
I laugh. I weep, I grasp the ropes, but not too tight. Harness. The wind respect its strength, saltwater stings. But it also heals if you’ve placed a stone on this cairn or sailed these waters, what words of wisdom can you share? PS: Was that too many metaphors in one small space?”
Big feelings make more sense as word pictures.
And people love to share their advice. I’m not, I don’t have all the answers, I’m not the expert in all these things. But, I’m where I am in my life journey. I want my community to rally around me and say, Like their journey and my journey fits together so beautifully.
I need them and they need me. we have got to figure out the connection between our passion and the person that we’re talking to. And that is by the middle bridge.
Accept the call to transform your writing skills.
Number two is delivering the value. Yeah you want them to feel like whatever you post, whatever you email, whatever product you come out with.
“Oh, I know this is going to be good. I’m going to stop scrolling because whenever Ruthie speaks, whenever Mindy speaks, it’s something that I want to know about, even if it’s just musings on life.” You know, you gotta throw in just that fun value stuff in amongst the kind of teachy stuff, maybe the heavier stuff, but mix it all up just with life in all its dynamism.
This is what works, it works.
Pre tip: Accept the call
1. Be clear on your purpose
2. Be clear on your value
3. Be clear with your language.
You have a message someone needs to hear, but remember, every time you write, be clear on your purpose and deliver value. So many times we complicate the message by too many words. Sometimes we just need to simplify. Most of the time, actually, we need to do this. I hope you’ll join us for the Flourish Writer’s conference, happening October 6 through 31, 2022. Pick up your free ticket and join us. Thanks for listening today, join us next week, and remember to share your clear message in a valuable way, in your own authentic voice.
Mindy Kiker grew up making sandcastles by the sea, dancing the hula in Hawaii, and singing Zulu songs in South Africa. Her passion for people is energizing over a decade in Africa where she runs development projects focuses on Adult Education and Entrepreneurship. Mindy holds a B.A. in English and Linguistics from the University of Florida and an M.Sc. in Organizational and Leadership Systems from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. At FlourishWriters, she cultivates an online gathering place for writers to build community, find clarity, and grow in the craft of writing.
Mindy makes her home in Florida with her husband and four sons. Connect online @mindykiker and https://flourishgathering.com/.