You and I may read this differently.
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Last weekend, I was searching for a happy quote about Sundays to post on my social. I came across this one:
“A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.”
How did you read this?
My content creator brain clicked on immediately, and I thought:
“Wow, exactly! If I have a full day of wonderful experiences, then my mind will be re-charged for the week to come and I will certainly be ready to create great content all week long. Plus, my adventures might actually give me some ideas to write about for the week.”
I spent a few minutes in awe of this proverb, believing that I had never met one that matched my life and career so perfectly.
Then my brain did a full 180. Wait a minute, am I reading this all wrong?? It was like staring at a Rorschach test and finally seeing that there is actually an entirely different image that I had been missing.
I was seeing the word “content” as meaning the information and experiences that I gather and then relate to an audience through my writing.
But it’s far more likely that the author of this proverb was using the word “content” to mean a state of peaceful happiness and satisfaction. It makes total sense, of course, that the right way to interpret this quote would use this definition. Much more sense than my first response to it. So, why had it taken me a minute to get it?
This experience, though seemingly just a small moment in my day, taught me a great deal as a writer and a person. Some of the lessons I already knew and were good reminders, and others were more eye-opening…
Each of us reads with a subconscious filter. This filter contains all our individual experiences, beliefs, skills, etc. As writers, we should take extreme care to review what we are creating for any double meanings or potential confusion, whether we’re writing for ourselves or on behalf of clients. Look at your content from all different angles – straight on, sideways, upside down. Be your own devils’ advocate and ask, “Are there several ways someone could interpret this?” “How can I rewrite this to have a crystal clear meaning?”
The solution might be as simple as replacing a word that has several different definitions to it!
Was there a moment when you completely read something wrong or when you wrote something that people misinterpreted?
Author's Note: This article was originally written in my role as Chief Content Officer for Lisa Baker Associates.