Avoid Obsessive Writing

Demanding man

Readers can sense whether a writer has an obses­sion or pas­sion about a sub­ject. Do not make them feel uncom­fort­able with too many emphatic directives.

Publish 13 February 2021

A Reason To Write

You should have a good reason for writing. Perhaps the subject is one you are passionate about. You may feel that the material will benefit readers. But there is a fine line between passion and obses­sion. For example, you can develop a fondness for someone or even fall in love. A stalker claims such feelings but the manner of expressing it is atypical.

Tone it Down

Write With Too Much Feeling

Readers can sense whether a writer has an obses­sion or passion about a subject. One clue is the article length in relation to importance. A 3000-word article on why you should eat strawberries is difficult to swallow.

Too many repetitive commands or direc­tives also appear obsessive. How many times do you begin sentences with, “You must…” or “It is imperative that you…” or “I must stress that you need to…”? In this way, you are ordering the reader to comply. By the second or third time an individual reads ultima­tums like this, it becomes uncomfortable.

You may have valuable information to share. But keep in mind that readers are more comfortable coming to their own conclusions. Present the advantages of a particular action. Then ask what seems like the wise course; indicate the path data shows the majority take or make a suggestion with a nudge like, “You might consider…”

Alternatives to “You must” or “Need to” or “You can”
  • The majority will
  • A common course
  • For a good outcome
  • You may
  • A useful direction is
  • Many people will
  • You might
  • Consider doing this
  • You will enjoy results if
  • Continue making progress by

Too Weak

The other extreme is the overuse of, “you can” or “maybe.” These directives are less force­ful but reading them a half dozen times within 500 words dilutes the importance of your message. Just as you can, you might not. Most often, indicat­ing the proper course without an emphatic directive is sufficient. Just say what needs to be done. It is some­thing the reader expects with a proper foundation.

A life threatening medical emergency justifies an emphatic statement. Pair a call to action with a benefit. Use balance in how you phrase a variety of direc­tives. Your readers will not feel they are being ordered to adopt your thinking. Maintain your passion without crossing the line to an obsession. Your readers will love reading what you write.

Main image by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

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