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BW Businessworld

Tell A Story You Want To Tell Yourself!

The golden rule is to play it like a game - You need to go two steps further

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Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing the six-word story "For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn."

There are new kids on the block who are surprisingly- and remotely - not linked to literature.  Both write even shorter ones than this classic and run world's largest governments. One went on to become the president of the US with his classic 'Make America Great Again'. And then there is the master story teller closer home with a powerful one every now and then - Make in India, Swachh Bharat, Start up India - Stand up India, Toilets before temples, Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas.

"It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information," Oscar Wilde lamented.

Contrary to life in his era, most of content today being shared around is useless. Writing today is however fun with technology enabling engagement thereby aiding mutual growth.  The online world thrives on shares - the more the better.  

The golden rule is to play it like a game - You need to go two steps further. Your direct audience just becomes a channel. You do not write for your audience but for your audience's audience. Like a follow through on your swing in golf, it is self-sustaining and effortless. You don't waste people's time. You get retweets, shares, forwards and what have you.

All writing therefore needs to pass through a self-replication index test.  Does it lend itself to the share-worthiness test of easy copying.  What is true for human genes is true for human memes.  You have to appeal to the re-tweeter's need to appear funny or intelligent or informed or whatever. The power of content is what the reader imagines about the content.  

What makes stuff share-worthy is relevancy, timeliness and interest quotient of content.  Everything flows from there.   Relevancy needs to address speaking to personal interest, addressing a broad demographic and telling a story of change. Every great story is a story of change.  Sounding enthusiastic helps and so does using quotations which are succinctly stated and perfectly contained ideas. A great quote can convey a complex concept in just a few words, and in an age of information-overload, this is extremely useful obviously - to cut through.

Other things help too- the platform, your network, right headline, perfect photograph, etc.

Purists can lament the art v/s content debate - original thought v/s an inspired copy-paste patchwork with list of hyperlinks or hashtags, lasting v/s momentary appeal, niche v/s mass, quality v/s quantity, etc.

Writing creatively has to be for personal satisfaction but coloring it right for search engines needs to be developed as a skill.

Tell a story therefore but don't tell it too prose!

Those who succeed - the best of them - are able to achieve a healthy balance between both.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Piyush Sharma

Piyush Sharma is a modern management practitioner and ancient philosophy enthusiast

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