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    Negative Node Nancy

    By Kieran Drew
    This is an edition of my old newsletter Digital Freedom.

    It's lightly edited but otherwise untouched. I've kept them on the site to show how the journey has evolved.

    If you can attract an audience around your interests, you can build a business serving them.

    This is an idea from Naval Ravikant - and it's the reason I started writing.

    But here’s the problem.

    Creating content isn't enough to build a bond with your reader.

    You need to create emotion.

    Else you’re just another commodity creator in the sea of noise.

    I ignored this idea early on. I could barely write 3 tweets a day, let alone make my reader jump with joy or cry with laughter.

    But you don't need to an extreme reaction to create emotion.

    It’s much simpler.

    In Latin it means ‘to disturb’.

    So you only need to pull your reader away from the slumber of doom scrolling, if just for a few minutes a day.

    Julian Shapiro explains this change of state best with his 5 aims of writing:

    • Counter-intuitive — "Oh, I never realized the world worked that way."
    • Counter-narrative — "Wow, that's not how I was told the world worked!"
    • Shock and awe — "That's crazy. I would have never believed it."
    • Elegant articulations — "Beautiful. I couldn't have said it better myself."
    • Make someone feel seen — "Yes! That's exactly how I feel!"

    And today, you'll get a strategy to create these states with ease.

    Let's talk about negative node writing.

    The Negative Node

    Writing attracts attention, but for a magnet to work it needs both a positive and negative node.

    But I'm not suggesting you be a dick for engagement.

    Anger gets views but it's a terrible foundation for building your brand.

    Instead, we're gonna use a writer’s most powerful emotive tool:


    Here's how it works.

    Step 1: Put yourself in their shoes

    In High Impact Writing we discuss the One True Fan framework:

    You should write with one person in mind - the person you can help the most.

    It’s a bit like a bullseye to aim for with your writing. If you can nail your message for one person, you'll attract thousands.

    Ask these questions:

    1) What do they see?

    Imagine scrolling Twitter.

    What ideas are they exposed to? What messages are being milked far too often? What’re the common themes in your niche?

    2) What do they think and feel?

    Are they fed up? Sick of being lied to? Desperate for results? Skeptical? Hopeful?

    This’ll help us tap into their emotional state. One way to do this is to take the ‘see’ list and add ‘which means’.

    visual 1

    Another cool way to do this is to find popular ideas from big accounts.

    But only use that method if you genuinely have a counterpoint.

    Let me show you what I mean.

    I've just jumped on Twitter and seen this:

    It’s never been easier to succeed. All you need is a bit of consistency.

    Onwards to step 2.

    Step 2: The counterpoint

    First up.

    If you don't have anything interesting to say, say nothing at all.

    The last thing you want is a message you don’t believe in - polarity is powerful until people realise you’re full of shit.

    For each point ask:

    Do I disagree? If so, why?

    visual 2

    Let’s take this consistency message.

    It’s nice. But it’s also the daily dose of hopium that brands are great at dealing (myself included).

    I’ve smoked that pipe far too much as an early creator.

    Here’s the reality.

    2020 Twitter was a breeze compared to now.

    What’s more, if consistency were all you needed, everyone would have a six-figure business.

    Hell, I kept consistent for 18 months without a single dollar. Did my business take off because I added more consistency?


    Consistency gets you going.

    But it’s not a magic pill.

    I could continue the rant but I appreciate it’s Friday and you should be enjoying a beer instead of spending your evening with me, so let’s move on.

    Step 3: Polish your point

    For better or worse, who has the best ideas is less important than who says them best.

    Presentation is key.

    If I wrote this on Twitter I know it wouldn't do too well:

    Consistency isn’t the only thing you need to succeed. You need to work hard, learn, and listen to feedback.

    It’s not a bad message.

    But it ain’t exactly a world rocker either.

    You create sexy sentences with tools like:

    • Juxtaposition
    • Rhythm and rhyme
    • Analogy and metaphor

    So a few better examples:

    Marketers sell you the idea of consistency because it’s easy. But building a business is hard. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.

    Or perhaps:

    If consistency were all you needed to become the best, the world would be full of formula one drivers.


    But one-liners don’t build authority.

    So here’s a direct version:

    Writers:​ Stop listening to people who tell you it’s never been easier to succeed. You know as well as I do it’s tough to stand out in 2023. The internet’s never been busier and competition is fierce.

    Expect it to be hard. Then work hard to make it easy.

    See how this might appeal to an early writer?

    And what about the calibre of customer?

    I don’t want easy riders. I want my message to attract people willing to put in the work.

    Step 4: Present your solution

    Most people attack ideas but few solve them.

    Make your reader curious with a negative node and they have one question on their mind:

    Now what?

    But note:

    A solution works when your reader is aware of their problem.

    So you might work on step 3 more before creating something. Resonance requires repetition.

    But once your audience is hooked...

    Give them what they want.

    For example, if you’re a fitness account beefing with machine exercises, build a barbell routine.

    Or if you think barbell exercises are too unstable for muscle growth (probably a better negative node), give a machine/stable exercise routine.

    For our message today, the solution is intensity.

    I could create the 90-day writer sprint - where you go all in on a single goal. I’ll share how you set the north star, break it into output goals, and then monitor data for feedback.

    Starting to sound pretty cool right?

    When I write content, I'll frame my unique solution with the common problem.

    Making it muuuuch more interesting.

    Step 5: Build your moat

    So far this exercise costs nothing but time.

    The beauty of writing online is testing ideas without committing to them.

    I could write 10 negative node tweets, see which performed best, then write a thread with a solution.

    Smart stuff.

    But the more you write, the more you realise certain messages stand out to you and your reader.

    Pay attention - these are the ideas you fight for.

    They form a moat which helps you stand out from the competition.

    “You need a moat in business to protect you from the guy who is going to come along and offer it (your product) for a penny cheaper.”

    ​- Warren Buffett

    If people resonate with your message, create a solution. If they enjoy the solution, create a system. If the system works, build a product.

    The 90-day sprint could show:

    • How to set goals and gamify the process
    • How to turn the results into data so you can iterate fast
    • A 30-thread content plan so you know precisely what to write
    • An accountability community where you work in public and encourage each other

    The important part here is I’m not just another writer selling a writing product (who’d wanna be one of those bastards eh).

    What are your negative nodes?

    Of course, you can’t productize every view that pisses you off.

    For example, I'm not gonna build my business around fighting consistency. It's a good point but it doesn't light a fire under my arse.

    But these messages do:

    1) Writing isn’t just about making money. It’s about making a difference.

    It’s easy to lose sight of how amazing writing is on Money Twitter.

    It’s why High Impact Writing isn’t called High Income Writing (cringe).

    Anyone who’s bought the product knows the recurrent theme is about helping other people with your ideas.

    You get what you want when you help other people get what they want.

    2) It’s not about followers. It’s about fans.

    The creator business is the relationship business. Audience building is a waste of time without trust building. Revenue is a by-product of reputation. The aim is to be an authority, not a commodity.

    These are points I repeat often my friend.


    Because this is how you build a tribe of people just like you.

    The more you write about an idea the stronger it becomes.

    So if you want to be heard, speak up.

    Don't just show what you stand for.

    Show what you stand against.

    Build a message worth reading.

    Find your negative nodes

    Kieran Drew

    About Kieran

    Ex dentist, current writer, future Onlyfans star · Sharing what I learn about writing well, thinking clearly, and building an online business