February 17, 2016 8:57 pm
The rise of content marketing has seen many non-professional writers getting involved in writing. That’s a good thing, for lots of reasons. But it can be hard. For example they talk to me about writer’s block or what their high school English teachers told them.
I’m a firm believer that journalists and most professional writers – top novelists and fiction writers aside – don’t get writer’s block. Or it’s an exceptional thing. But I get the problem millions face today. They literally freeze – especially when someone in marketing or an external agency asks them for a certain number of words by a certain deadline.
So here’s the fix. And if it sounds like the same fix given to procrastinators or those who can’t begin a simple household chore, there’s a good reason for that – it is the same technique.
There’s a saying that all writing is editing. So first of all don’t worry about formalities and your old English teacher. Don’t worry about trying to craft great sentences. That can come later and with the help of others.
With those shackles off, what do you do? You need one thing. One thing, you ask? Unlike Jack Palance’s Curly character with Billy Crystal in “City Slickers” I’m going to tell you what that one thing is: It’s the key point you want to convey. It’s no more than a sentence. Ideally it’s original or at least framed in a way you haven’t seen anywhere else.
As an old editor of mine used to say to leader article writers: “Tell me something I don’t know.” And really by ‘me’ and ‘I’ he meant, ‘You tell the readers’. That was enough.
So the secret is not a secret. Good colleagues and external agencies will help you tease out that blog post, article or grand treatise from that one rough diamond of an idea. The idea is the hardest part.
*photo credit: “City Slickers” movie poster, © 1991 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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