Communicating to a Distra (Hey look at that!) cted Audience

It is pretty clear that our modern society has more distractions than any other society in human history. Combine all the conveniences of modern day life that make acquisition of food and other necessities so easy and we end up with a lot of time on our hands, which we quickly use up with all our personal media options among other things.

While I write this, I am traveling by train. Across from me is a man watching a movie on his laptop. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but what is interesting is that he has four “windows” open on his laptop.  The movie is one, but he also has his email, Facebook and calendar open in three other windows. He regularly switches from the movie to email to Facebook, back to the movie and so on. He has a plug-in wireless internet connection. God forbid we every be out of touch with the world.

Honestly, the most annoying part of all this, is that he also has a huge bag of cookies on the seat next to him and he’s not sharing. Chocolate chip cookies can be a distraction.

Hold on for a minute, I have an email…(humming noise)

Where was I? Oh, yes, chocolate chip cookies. Wait, no…oh, yes, communicating to a distracted world.

For those who work in all types of media (radio, TV, magazines, internet, books, etc) a significant amount of attention is paid to pulling readers through from one segment, time period, article or page to the next. Those things have always been important, but our distracted modern society has presented a unique set of challenges for everyone from authors to web developers. Never before have…

Excuse me for a second, I have a text message…

“Oh, man, that crazy guy, how did he get a video of a cat playing a piano! Dude, that is so messed up! But really funny. Reminds me the video of a dog playing a tambourine from…I forget.”

Oh, sorry, I didn’t know you were still here. Back to communicating to writing books about cats. Cats are part of God’s creation and put on this earth for a purpose. Therefore, we can learn great spiritual lessons from them.

“Sure, I’d love some cookies, thanks for offering.”

(Now I need to get something to drink with these. I’ll be right back.)

It is pretty frustrating when other people get distracted when I am trying to communicate something to them. Must mean I need to write stronger, pull people through from page to page or I’ll lose them along the way. This applies to all…

(Ring tone)

“Hello? Hi there. I’m fine. So, what can I do for you? Wait, hold on for a minute, I need to say goodbye to someone on my blog. I’ll be right back.”

Sorry, I need to take this call, so I’ll cut this short. Remember, we are all vying for attention of a distracted audience. So when you write, make it good.

“OK, I’m back. Hey, that cat video you sent was crazy. Did I send you the one with the dog?”

18 Responses to Communicating to a Distra (Hey look at that!) cted Audience

  1. Avatar
    Henyad December 2, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    That’s funny!!!! Good distracting piece. Wait! I have to answer that text…..wbrb

  2. Avatar
    Jackie Layton December 2, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    Morning Dan,

    You’re not saying write shorter stories, just better stories. Right?

    I’ve noticed the men in my family seem more connected to their phones than the women. Do you think it’s easier to write to an audience of women if this is the case?

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow December 2, 2014 at 5:55 am #

      Good writing has no length limitations. However, if we want to reach people who don’t read much, shorter is better. That’s why daily devotions are popular…three minutes and done.

      Women have always read more than men, especially among Christians. The greatest gap for Christians is in fiction where a “chicken/egg” situation exists…very few novels for men, but Christian men are not reading much Christian fiction and so on.

      According to research, the percentage of people in the US who did not read a single book in the last year has tripled in the last 30+ years. About a quarter of all Americans read no books this year, up from less than 10% in the late 70’s.

      • Avatar
        Jackie Layton December 2, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

        Those are some scary statistics. My husband reads newspapers and maybe two books a year for fun. My sons both love to read which is good because I love to give books for presents.

        Have a great day!

  3. Avatar
    Chris December 2, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    Good morning mr. Dan. Point well taken. How to capture the brain muddled and hit the heart. It’s as big as the Great Wall of China. No wonder the art of good literature must climb up with bloody knees, scared hands and perseverance. When it finally hits the mark there is that coveted aha moment somewhere between Facebook, email and Twitter.

  4. Avatar
    Ane Mulligan December 2, 2014 at 6:47 am #

    Yep, that’s me. I try not to be, but I’ll admit I’m hopelessly ADD. The strangest part of that is I write or concentrate best when I write in a coffee shop. For some reason (besides turning off email) that noise is white noise to me. It energizes me and I can focus. I have a new favorite place, a small bakery/cafe in downtown. The owner is so creative, the decor is even inspiring. And I’m not distracted.

    Loved this piece, Dan. At least we can laugh at ourselves. :o)

    • Avatar
      Bethany Macklin December 2, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      I have a very successful writer friend who writes in coffee shops. I guess I’ll just have to try it. 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Jeanne Takenaka December 2, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    Me, distracted? Never!

    Okay, maybe . . . um . . . a lot of the time. I’m working on becoming more intentional about how I spend my time and my energy.

    What a funny post, Dan. You made me smile.

    As for my writing, I appreciate the reminder that it’s important to write strong enough to draw people in. I may not be able to entirely distract them from their distractions, but I may be able to pull them away for awhile. 🙂

  6. Avatar
    Richard Mabry December 2, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    Dan, great piece. Reminds me of a comedy routine by Michael Junior, with one line I still remember: “They tell me I have A D H…hey, that’s a pretty necklace.”
    Thanks for the reminder. I especially…wait, got to take that call.

    • Avatar
      JeanneTakenaka December 2, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      Richard, you made me chuckle. I have a friend who calls it, “A.D. . . . oh, shiny!” 😉

  7. Avatar
    Terri Wangard December 2, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    One way I avoid distractions when I’m supposed to be writing is by not having an internet connection for my laptop. If I need some quick research, I have to wait until I’m here at my work computer. Unfortunately, my laptop does have games, and I often duck out of my story for a game of spider solitaire.

  8. Avatar
    Afton Rorvik December 2, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Sounds like the day I had yesterday. I meant to write, but then I followed a few Twitter feeds, updated Facebook, did some “research” online and then stumbled over Cyber Monday deals. Thanks for the laugh. Think I’ll get back to, um, writing now.

  9. Avatar
    Bethany Macklin December 2, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    Wow. So true. Even now I’m hopping branch to branch . . . Twitter, email, blog post.
    Ouch! Thanks for the glimpse from the outside.

  10. Avatar
    Jenelle. M December 2, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    My word I needed to laugh today. Thank you, Dan 🙂

    Two nights ago I asked my husband about this very topic. Based on my track record with jobs and life, I wonder if I’m easily distracted or if I’m making excuses to not get the work done. And now this post. God I’m still listening.

    As for writing to a distracted reader… I’m going to whine and say that it’s not fair. All the competition we have with videos and short posts makes writing anything longer than 100 words that will keep someone engaged a really hard challenge. But like you said, Dan, it’s the time we live in. And not everyone is distracted. I get that it’s our job to write stronger so the reader is hooked early on, but trying to do that while preserving the story and character arc can be beat my head against the wall hard. But it is what it is so….

    Four years ago, I had the privilege of getting paired up with an amazing man in the industry who showed me to write a story like a screenplay. Not exactly like one, but how to follow the format of one. He said that story telling in books is changing and while some people will yell at me and shake their fist and scream how dare you!, I will stand firm and say that in some genres, I agree with him.

  11. Avatar
    Karen Ball December 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Dan, I’m sitting here chuckling. My hubby, Don, wants to buy me a t-shirt that says, “I am not AD-oo, look! A bunny!”

    Now I think I’ll write a blog post on tips for distracted writers to finish their books!

  12. Avatar
    Amber Schamel December 2, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Haha, great post. But really, would you have a phone conversation with someone about a cat piano video? LOL 🙂

    Karen, GREAT IDEA. I would classify myself as a distracted writer. Though, most of those distractions are out of my control. Such as bosses who want something done NOW, children who need attention…etc.

  13. Avatar
    Len Woods December 3, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    Funny! (and so true). How did I survive in the days of three TV networks (3.5 if you count a very grainy PBS affiliate), no gaming devices, or Internet, or smart phone)?


  1. Can I Have Your Attention Please? - The Steve Laube Agency - October 20, 2015

    […] See my tongue-in-cheek post from last December on the subject of communicating with a distracted audience. Click Here to read “Communicating to a Distra (Hey look at that!) cted Audience.” […]

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