As I sat in my office, trapped in a large-scale Zoom meeting, I wasn’t just half-engaged—I was barely there at all. With thirty participants on the call, I had to scroll through more than one screen to see everyone. I heard the ding of my email and flipped over to my inbox to see who’d reached out. I noticed I’d chipped a nail and grabbed the file from my desk to smooth out the snag. Then back to Zoom and the yammering on about this and that. When the hour was up, I went back to editing a book and lamented my wasted time. I hadn’t connected with anyone on that call.
The day before, I’d completed my weekly grocery run, moving through the one-way aisles like a ghost, grabbing the week’s necessities. Six feet apart, don’t touch your face, sanitize after contact, don’t touch, don’t cough, don’t sneeze—the messages ran through my mind, emblazoned on my consciousness like a nasty scar. I may as well have been a robot with no senses, no smarts, no soul.
It’s not that this isn’t the way I want to live; it’s not the way I want to feel. I don’t mind masking up and keeping a respectable distance to protect others. But I don’t like the empty, zombified feeling I get in public. I crave human contact while I’m out and about. And I refuse to be afraid of other people; I’m not wired like that. What I miss and want most is connection.
The Click of Connection
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that satisfying click when I make full eye contact with someone else, even if it’s my dog. It’s different from looking at someone’s nose or their forehead or even the point between their eyebrows. There’s a physical click when my eyes lock in with someone else’s. I can feel it even if that person’s across the room.
That’s the click of connection. And I crave it. I need it even more than I did in March at the beginning of our changed world. Connection makes me feel human.
So I started an experiment. I decided that wherever I go and whomever I encounter, I will make a concerted effort to make eye contact. You know what I found? Not everyone is game. Not everyone wants to be seen. I can look at someone’s eyes all day long, but if they don’t accept the connection, I don’t experience that satisfying click that resonates down into my solar plexus and releases those happy endorphins.
It’s similar to writing a book. The reader comes to you to make a connection. They’re ready and willing and have even spent money to be with you. So it’s your job to create that click, to make eye contact with them. To give them that satisfying feeling all the way down to their solar plexus. Otherwise, they leave disappointed.
Draw Readers in with Sensory Language
But how do you do that on a written page? It’s actually pretty simple, although it’s not fast or easy. You not only offer the reader your eyes, you give them all of your senses.
One way to connect with your reader is to bring them close—to make them feel like they’re right there in the room with you—and you do that by using sensory language.
Sensory language is just what it sounds like; it’s the language of our five senses. When you use sensory language, you describe what you saw, felt, heard, tasted, and smelled. You don’t tell the reader, “I was sad when my girlfriend left me.” You write, “When she said she was leaving, my throat clamped tight and a bank of tears flooded my eyes. I blinked hard, trying not to cry, but one hot tear escaped and salted my upper lip.”
Writing in detail takes time, but not as much as you might think. There are a lot of resources for learning how to do this, but my favorite is the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
Anne Lamott encourages writers to look at their world in small sections, the size of a one-inch picture frame. “All I have to do is write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame,” she says. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?
And when you’re frenzied about how much you need to write, step back and look through that one-inch picture frame. “All we’re going to do for now is to write a description of the river at sunrise, or the young child swimming in the pool at the club, or the first time the man sees the woman he will marry.” That’s it. Construct the details of your book by looking through these small windows, use sensory language, and you’ll make a connection with your reader.
Write Your Book in the Company of Real Humans
Back to Zoom. Zoom is a great platform, and at The Book Professor® we’ve been using it for years to connect with our authors. But we do it in a way that creates connection rather than thwarting it. Each week during your year-long Executive Mastermind, you’ll be on an hour-long Mastermind call to share your progress as a writer, read your writing, listen to others, and exchange feedback on each other’s work. No mass groups; you can make eye contact with every other person. Our Masterminds are limited to seven people, and by the end of the course, you’ll have made some of the closest connections of your adult life. Each person transforms from someone who thought they couldn’t write worth a flip into a published author. And that’s the greatest click of all!
If this approach appeals to you, contact me today to ask about our Executive Mastermind Class. Here at The Book Professor®, we’ve helped people from all walks of life to write the book they always wanted to write. Our process takes you from idea to draft, from editing to publication, all in a friendly format working with other writers. Let’s get started today!