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  • katherinestano

7 Ways to Write With Empathy

Updated: Jan 7

Folly Beach, South Carolina in November with a pier stretching out into a melancholy ocean under puffy, storm clouds
Photo Credit: @katstanophotography

Writing with empathy is not only a way to be universally loved (naturally, our fans MUST adore us!), but it's a great quality to have when working with clients. You want your writing to be consistent with the brand's voice. Is the brand a soprano or alto? Maybe a bass? Or perhaps it's a tenor! Tenors are so melodious!

You also want to be notably understanding of the company who's hired you when it comes to communication, timelines, and general professionalism. Pros hire other pros, so it's good to truly care about what they want and need. Think of it like a hug in the form of strategically composed writing!

So how do we get better at being empathetic writers? For me, it starts with dreaming of what it's like to be in another person's experience. Then, thinking about what I'd require emotionally, physically, and spiritually in that given situation. As writers, we luckily have this great tool called IMAGINATION. And it comes at a cost of zero dollars! Inflation can't ruin that kind of bargain!

Here are seven ways to write with empathy:

1. Think about who will be reading your writing.

  • What lives are they leading?

  • Who do they love?

  • Who do they not love?

  • What are they passionate about?

  • What would make them smile?

  • What annoys them?

  • What offends them?

  • What are their dreams?

  • What are their struggles?

  • Where do they live?

  • Where are they from?

  • What do they look like?

  • How do they communicate?

  • What are their idiosyncrasies?

  • How are they different from you?

  • How are they the same?

2. Appreciate others' experiences.

First, write how you'd typically express yourself or describe a scene. Then, rewrite the same excerpt using a friend's perspective. Then, rewrite it again using a stranger's perspective.

Folly Beach, South Carolina in November with a man staring at the ocean and dramatic clouds, with sea foam in the foreground
Photo Credit: @katstanophotography

3. Make yourself open to many points-of-view.

  • Read a variety of book genres by various authors.

  • Watch shows that explore many storylines, situations, and cultures.

  • Talk to people who grew up in a different family environment than you did.

  • Follow bloggers, writers, podcasters, influencers, and other artists you admire.

  • Listen to song lyrics in music you like and music that's new to you.

4. Soften your heart.

Take preconceived ideas and notions you might have and try to see them in a fresh way. This will not only make you a gentler writer but a more sensitive human.

5. Pretend you're reading aloud to an eclectic audience.

Write so that each person gets something out of your message. Give them content to connect to, relate to, and make them feel seen.

6. Use humor.

Now, humor can be very subjective, but there are harmless ways to add personality and voice that give people a connection to what you're expressing in your piece of writing. Self-deprecating humor (one of my go-tos because it can be funny to be a hot mess like me!) and observational humor are some techniques to get a warm response from your readers.

Make sure your humor doesn't mock anyone or hurt someone's feelings. Always think of the wide range of people and personalities who'll be reading your work. Make it inclusive for everyone. Don't leave anyone out of the joke.

7. Find the universal elements in the human experience.

We're all individuals, definitely unique in the stories and memories we've made. We all have our very specific quirks. (I know I have my fair share!) BUT, there are core emotions, feelings, challenges, life stages, and interests in which we can bond.

Folly Beach, South Carolina in November with a man standing with outstretched arms on a platform in front of the ocean that reads, "All You Need is Love"
Photo Credit: @katstanophotography

For some of us, empathy comes from a pretty inherent place. And others may have to tune in just a little more. But if you're wondering how to get it right, then you're already being an empathetic writer, AND one step closer to imagining life in someone else's shoes.

And wow, I can imagine those shoes look quite good on you.

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