Attention is a Gift

From the highly readable Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield:

You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer must give him something worthy of his gift to you. When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, you develop empathy.

Dear reader, I feel for you. Thanks as always.

Regarding persuasive nonfiction:

Here’s the wrong way:
1) Introduce the thesis (first three chapters).
2) Cite examples supporting the thesis (next hundred chapters).
3) Recap and sum up what you’ve presented so far (last five chapters).

In other words, “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you’ve just told ‘em.”

This is salient advice, and it perfectly explains why every time I read self-help or one of these pop-psych “here’s how things really work” books it feels like the whole thing should have been a blog post or two.


Leave a Reply