Keep It Real: Writing with Intention, Part I

By Cléa Hernandez

To rise above the trash fire of weak content, authenticity is key. But keeping your writing real is tougher than it looks.

These days, everyone and their tween-age niece is a content producer. The ocean of information we navigate and sop up every day is breathtaking. But there’s also a lot of wet baloney flapping around.

I don’t think it’s because we’re running out of meaningful ideas to share. Actually, the collaboration happening on social platforms is creating a Big Bang in idea generation. We’re learning from each other at an exponential rate, and those who remain open to new possibilities are reaping the rewards of global teamwork.  

The ancient Egyptians were some of the O.G. content strategists and producers. Nearly 4,000 years later, hieroglyphic stories captured with a precise conjunction of art and language still thrill visitors to the Temple of Karnak. (Photo credit: Stephanie Strong)

Everything is different, but the same... things are more moderner than before…

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Since the first blip of human consciousness, story remains our most powerful medium for ideas, and storytelling our best hope for communion and progress.

But the baloney piles up, and people with the right intentions get the wrong ideas about how they should communicate. One hulking problem is that content marketing has become ubiquitous. We’re drowning in puffed-up prose, its authenticity diluted by sales goals. Everyone’s doing it, but few are telling a story with the intention of creating a shared breakthrough.

Say My Name

And even when we do have something useful to say, we’re often not speaking to each other. We’re shouting down a lifeless tunnel into the infinite internet of things. It’s hard to be yourself—to keep it real—when your audience is everyone and no one in particular. 

Before you face down the sinister blank page with your solution to life, the universe, and everything, slow your roll. Consider the fellow humans you’re speaking to. Remember that movie, "The Neverending Story"? Don’t let the “Nothing” become the “No one” when you’re writing. Bring your story to life by having a conversation with your reader. 

Working at Focus Lab, you learn quickly that intentional design is much more than a buzzword. And while intentional visual design is a major part of our secret sauce, we realize that intentional language design is just as important.

In part two of this post, I’ll share some tips on how I slash the B.S. to keep it real when I’m writing. Until then, some good general rules of thumb (and Focus Lab core standards, FTW) are to ask more questions, value people over profits and quality over quantity, and keep it simple.