I said HEY!
Helloooooo! Close your Instagram app, I’m talking to you!
Okay great, now I’ve got your attention. That was a little harder than it was back in my day before we had smartphones (did you hear the grandma voice there?).
Do you feel it when you write?
Do you feel it when you post?
Do you feel it when you have something really important to say?
The attention span just isn’t there. If your blog post is more than 400 words and without carefully inserted bullet points, headlines, and bolded text—hey put down your phone, I’m still talking!—it’s going to be placed in the TL;DR category (that’s too long, didn’t read for those of you who aren’t with the hip internet lingo like I am).
But is that actually true?
Think about the times when you arrive at a TL;DR post. Do you decide not to read it because of length or because the writer didn’t captivate you?
I am a victim of my smartphone. It’s true. I can feel my attention span declining. I reach for my phone without thinking to fill the spaces waiting in line, or during a commercial break, or riding in the car.
But I’ll pause for a good piece of writing.
I’ll read the shit out of it.
I think the problem with the TL;DR fear is that we feed it. Instead of writing something interesting, heartfelt, and really diving into the gritty details to create an image that makes your reader audibly gasp at their screen, we post a listicle, “Here’s some condensed garbage you can read because I know you’re not going to really pay attention to the good stuff.”
At least that’s how I feel about it.
We think that we’re doing ourselves a favor by saving that time and energy and soul it would have taken to write a beautiful post, but really we’re just atrophying our own writing muscle and teaching our readers that the garbage content is actually the content they should be caring about.
Can we all agree that that’s kind of messed up?
It’s not about condensing all your information to match a short attention span. It’s figuring out what genuinely interests your audience so that you can craft a message that captivates.
And if you don’t believe me, I ask you this: If someone can barely sit through a 400 word post, are they really your ideal audience? Do you really think they’re going to take the time to actually buy into your product/service anyway?
I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine who is helping me test a new writing course I’m cooking up behind the scenes for you. She expressed concern that the resulting post she had written was long—like 1000+ words long. But when she sent the content over to me, I was hooked. Not that her current blog posts aren’t interesting (because they totally contain a lot of super helpful information), but the storytelling element of this piece of writing ushered me closer.
I couldn’t just decide to stop paying attention after paragraph two and simply skim the rest like my low attention span might normally have me do, I was invested in this story and needed to keep reading to find out what happened.
That’s the power of storytelling for you.
It wasn’t like this story was a huge, nail-biting, action-packed, cliffhanger. But setting a scene, introducing a challenge, and giving me a glimpse into who she was as a person—not just as a business—kept me reading until the very end. And the conclusion and takeaway message that connected the story back to her business + offering is something that’s going to sit on my mind just a little bit longer because of it.