4 Ways to Avoid ‘Yuck!’


The other day, I opened my front door to a headless bunny.

It was another present from DC, my cat, who was just sharing. Although I appreciate DC’s generosity, it really isn’t my thing.

It got me thinking about how writers may have the best intentions to share information, but how those intentions can go wrong.

In DC’s mind, she was doing great things. So how can a writer avoid the sometimes mistaken idea that what she writes is being well received? How can she avoid sharing with a cat’s attitude and getting “yuck” for her efforts?

Just because you think something is a great idea doesn’t mean everyone thinks it is. DC saw the bunny as a nice, juicy tidbit–a gourmet meal. Writers must avoid the “me”-centered attitude. It’s all about the audience, the readers. If their needs aren’t met, all the writing in the world can’t force them to accept the information.

Make sure you evoke the right emotion. DC was convinced I’d be really pleased and grateful. Those were not my initial emotions.  How can writers bring out the desired reaction? The first step is to determine exactly what we want our readers to feel. Is it longing? Is it satisfaction? Then we carefully choose the words that will create a mind picture that resonates with those emotions.

Let the writing “cook” awhile before presenting it. DC’s into fresh meat. Writers, on the other hand, need to put aside those first drafts to clear their minds. In the heat of writing, we are often too close to what we’re writing for an objective assessment. We need a little distance for effective revision.

Learn and move on. When I didn’t immediately gobble up DC’s little present, she didn’t let it go to waste. If we don’t get quite the reaction we expect from our writing, we should evaluate why, learn from it, and use that knowledge in the future.

Our best intentions—whether by a cat or a writer—sometimes don’t get the reactions we expect. For cats, the world always operates in feline fashion. Writers can’t afford that attitude. We have audiences to satisfy.