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Full disclosure: I freakin’ hate politics. Still, I pay attention and I vote. I hope you do too.

Civics lecture aside, we can learn a few things from election cycles, aside from which friends we plan to block on Facebook.

Elections and writing have a lot in common … and no, this isn’t about fiction.

Story matters

Your vote is tied to a story. Take any candidate on the ballot, from the one running for the small-town commission to the governor’s race up to the presidency, and there’s a narrative.

It’s simple: Election Day winners are those who best communicated their story.

What are you trying to communicate? Think about your business or the book you’ve always wanted to write. The clearer you are, the better.

Related: You are Enough: Believe in Yourself and Your Writing Abilities

Take the reader on a journey

To say your vote is tied to a story means your favorite candidates have taken you on a journey of some sort.

In politics, it’s typically either a story about life being good and your vote ensuring that the good times continue; or life being pretty crappy, and your vote changing that.

Either way, the candidate has woven together a beginning, middle, and end. There are heroes and villains. And you, the reader/voter, are quite literally in the middle of this particular tale.

Again, think of your own writing. What’s the journey? Or at the very least, what’s the point, the lesson, or the conclusion?

Keep it simple

My mailbox is near my recycling bin, which is pretty handy during Election season. I grab a fistful of campaign flyers out of the mailbox and march straight to the recycling.

I do glance at the materials on the way. And you know what? The language is pretty simple. Have you ever seen obscure wording on campaign materials? No. You haven’t.

I won’t go so far as to say campaign flyers represent good writing. But they ARE pretty effective.

Do you want to communicate effectively? Burn your thesaurus and keep the syllable count low. Strive for clarity

Share bits of yourself

I know, I know. Politicians’ spouses and squeaky-clean children are all for show. That’s the cynical view a lot of us possess, right?

But here’s the deal: personal stories foster connection.

When you write and share snippets of your personal story, you build trust with your reader. You also build rapport. Readers want to spend time with you and potential clients and customers stick around on your website longer. They open your emails and click on your links, and, if you’ve done a good job at it, they buy from you.

Related: How to write about yourself (without being a pompous boor)

And authenticity matters. Although a lot of us may view the candidates’ personal stories with an eye roll, I’ll wager the ones you vote for are the ones whose stories and personal life you most buy into.

Maybe that OTHER guy has a trophy wife, but YOUR guy loves his spouse. Or maybe your candidate’s personal problems are relatable and you respect the heck out of someone who bounces back from tough times.

Even the guy who runs for the local Zoning Board of Appeals is using storytelling. Think about it. You don’t see him running around quoting zoning regulations to convince you to vote for him. Good Lord, no. He’s telling a story, probably one about responsible growth, and he’s likely relating it to a better future for his (and your) children. Story, journey, personal bits.

Are you weaving bits of yourself into your business and into your writing? You don’t need a tell-all, but you’ll build much stronger connections when you allow the reader/potential customer a peek inside.

What would you add? What else do elections and writing have in common? Leave a comment and let me know!

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