Triggering people and getting judged is necessary for writing success.
If you’re wanting your audience to hear your message, your best bet is to make yourself prone to judgement and being embarrassed.
Because negative emotions get people to pay attention to our ideas. When you provoke, you give your audience a chance to hear your message or learn from your expertise.
You make them assume something about you or what you think. You make them angry. You contradict something they dearly believe in. But, in the end, your point is more subtle than that provocative statement…
… which your readers will have ample time to find out by reading your text. And, trust me, they will because once they think they’ve “got you,” they will want to confirm they’re right.
Soon, however, they find out they’re half right, if right at all. Now they are forced to conclude you are not who they thought you were. You did not mean what they thought you meant.
And now they are left pondering your point. And ponder your point they do because they have read paying full attention. Their minds, their emotions were fully present.
So you have successfully transferred information.
Some readers may try to use your statements against you. It is meant to happen, whatever you do. If you’ve done your homework by nuancing the rest of the text, the readers will be the ones embarrassed.
Here’s an example:
Last night, I picked up the novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and read the first page. The very first paragraph is a first-person account of a man talking about his wife.
The account comes off as a psychopathic objectification of a woman. The man talks about her head in an odd, mechanical way. For a variety of reasons, I judged the character.
But I know that there is more to the story. I can make assumptions, but the book has over 400 pages. I can’t draw any conclusions right now. What do I need to do? I need to keep reading.
I need to hear what the author has to say.
I am hooked.
Here’s another example:
Remember Robert Kyosaki’s famous book Rich Dad, Poor Dad? I think it’s a dumb, provocative name. I don’t like it. I judged the author for a while before reading it.
But I read the book, and the message is much more nuanced than the title. The publisher apparently had proposed another name along the lines of “The Economics of…”
But it definitely wouldn’t have spoken to Kyosaki’s audience. And it wouldn’t have provoked anyone like me to read the book. I knew about the book for a long time — because of the name — before I actually sat down to read it.
Now, I am not saying you should use triggers foolishly and become a provocateur. Nor am I saying you should be offensive. If your introduction is provocative, your message should be nuanced. That’s how you satisfy your audience.
Whatever you do, however, remain civil and do not cause unnecessary harm.
There are people using the psychology of attention for their own greedy purposes. I find these people despicable. Please use this material to make a better place, not simply to advance your interests.
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