I make my living as a marketing writer so I like writing. But that doesn’t mean it comes easily. It’s work. I definitely understand the trepidation.
Here are my suggestions approaching a writing project:
1. Have your message and objective in mind.
Before you start, consider these questions: What points do you want to get across? What do you want to achieve? Are you out to persuade, inform, educate or something else? The work of writing will be easier if you have your goal and key messages in mind.
2. Know your audience.
Take time to think about who your readers or listeners are. Are they C-suite executives, middle-managers, sales people, engineers? What do they know? What do they believe about your topic? Is there a tone or style that will do a better job of getting your point across? The more you can internalize your audience's mindset, the more on-target your writing will be.
3. Gather resources (and thoughts) before you start.
Preparation is important to good writing, plus it can save time. If there are books, reports, charts or pictures you’ll need, gather them before you start writing.Then you won’t have to spend time finding them later. Also, this makes you think a bit before you start writing.
I often think about projects at odd moments when my brain is relatively free – in the car, taking a shower, or on a walk. In fact, I often get my best ideas when I’m not focused on the project.
4. Set aside time to write.
Thinking and preparation are important, but writing is the ultimate task. I recommend you carve out some uninterrupted quiet time for yourself when a big writing task looms. If you can’t get this in your office, see if you can work off-site to get it done.
5. If it’s not working, set it aside and come back later.
There will be times when you get stuck. When it happens to me, I’ve found that doing something else for a while works wonders. The something else may be getting a cup of coffee, taking a walk, stretching, or working on another project. When I get back to my original piece, I can address it with new energy.
6. Don’t expect perfection.
The first go at a written piece is often unpolished. The second attempt may not seem much better. Maybe you’re being too hard on yourself. Think about your objective. Does what you’ve written meet it? Does your writing convey the key messages you defined? Does it speak to your audience? If your answers are yes, it could be that what you’ve written is good enough. Let go! Yes or no, maybe it’s time for tip #7 – have another set of eyes look at it.
7. Get feedback.
The ideal critic for your writing would be someone in your targeted audience (or who at least understands your audience) and who will be honest. Take in their comments (positive and negative) without argument. Use feedback to improve your piece.
8. Call in a pro, if you need to.
If you just don’t have time to get the writing done, hire a professional. S/he’ll ask for the input in numbers 1, 2 and 3, so be prepared.
Hope these tips make your next writing assignment go more smoothly. If you need professional writing help, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org