“I’m a terrible writer” people say apologetically to me, as if not being able to craft a press release, a social media post, a report, or even an email — is a major character flaw.
Most people I know would rather have a root canal.
It’s not always easy for me, either. And I’m in the business of writing, of finding the right words, the right tone, and the right way for what other people want to say. But I’ve learned over many years that effective, persuasive writing can be a daunting task.
Here’s some things that may help:
Make the Blank Doc Your Friend
The historian Daniel Boorstin once said that “writing is a process of discovery.” I never produce my best stuff right out of the gate. Where I begin is rarely where I end up. I use a system of rapid jotting — a fast, uncensored bulleted list of everything I think I might want to convey. It gets everything out of my head and onto the page. I’m always surprised by what I uncover.
Rise to the Occasion
My good friend Pete Sena, founder and chief creative officer at Digital Surgeons, a global brand consultancy, suggests taking the process of discovery one step further: stand up and just say it. I often do this when I’m really stuck. I’ve discovered Loom, a free audio and video app that records what you say and sends you a transcript. Do this standing up, as if you’re talking to a colleague and let it rip. You’ll be amazed at how the points you want to make suddenly crystallize.
(Out)Loud + Proud
Michael Katz, founder of Blue Penguin Development, who practically invented the e-newsletter and who has helped legions of small business owners communicate effectively, advises his clients to always read their final draftsaloud. Proofreading will not catch all the pesky things — double commas, repeated words, typos you didn’t see the first five times you read it through.
Progress Over Perfection
That I didn’t need to be a Pulitzer prize-winning writer every time I sat down in front of my computer was hard for me to accept. We all want praise and adulation for our work. We want to be respected for our ideas and how we convey them. But striving for perfection in anything, especially how we write, is a zero-sum game. I’ve found that if perfection is what I’m aiming for, I’m dead on arrival. Instead, I allow myself the luxury of being “good enough” which makes me infinitely more productive and which turns the dread of all that white space into one that I now welcome.
Can’t get past the first sentence? I can help. Email me.