A small change massively improved the engagement with my writing…

Alex Mathers


If you ask the best writers what one thing improved their writing the most, many would tell you to simply write more.

You absolutely do, and you must ideally write every day to be a better writer. But this idea has been done to death (because it’s so true), and I’d love to point you to another idea that will help you as it helped me.

For years, my writing was stunted and ignored because of one thing:

I wanted to impress the reader.

I would write to look good.

I would write about things I thought would inspire people and make them want to follow me.

Thus my writing was a very self-conscious process. Because my mental model around writing was to impress people, I wrote with the intention to avoid making mistakes and avoid looking bad.

I equated growing an audience with looking impressive.

But then I wondered why few people responded to my work. I couldn’t figure out why my writing flopped.

Eventually, I made a shift, which had a huge impact on my words:

I started telling the truth.

I began to share ideas that risked criticism.

I wrote more about my flaws and my doubts.

I wrote about my struggles and the struggles of others.

People began to respond. My articles blew up. People reached out to me and thanked me for my words.

Why does this work?

This works mainly because the reader is seeing themselves in your concepts.

It’s never about you. It’s about demonstrating yourself as another human on this planet — one who is not perfect.

This is the kind of character the reader can relate to because they know their own struggles. They need hope. They don’t want to see someone living life without struggle.

Seeing transformation in the context of conflict and struggle is why stories work so well — there is always challenge. You need to show this in your writing as much as possible.