So you want to write?
Many of my clients tell me they enjoy writing and initially feel a bit guilty they aren't doing it all themselves.
I say, whether it's a novel, first blog or business website, if you want to do your own writing, you should at least try it. It’s the only way to see what skill level you're starting from, if it suits you (and your clients) and fits in with the time you have available. Writing is a fascinating process and shouldn't be denied to those who want to meander along its path.
Most people can write to some extent, just as most people can walk. However, writing for a living (and for those clients again) is a whole different ball game.
For the uninitiated, a finished piece, edited and flowing on the page, can appear deceptively easy to recreate. There's no trace of the pacing, mad-eyed writer trying to come up with the perfect tagline, or translate a forest of disparate notes into one beautifully cohesive whole.
It can also take years to write and edit a manuscript in amongst the bustle of normal life. Perhaps that’s why, out of the 80% of people who say they would like to write a novel, only 1% do*.
A few tips from one writer to another
1. It helps to move away from the romantic ideas associated with writing in order to just get on with it. That way you’ll better learn about its practicalities. This includes the reality of creativity: it doesn't flood the mind carrying you to a dreamlike, art-producing state. OK, it can on occasion, but it can also be the most meagre trickle – to be harnessed nonetheless – particularly where deadlines are concerned.
Writing is both art and craft and must be practised in order to become wonderful.
2. If you’re writing for business, whether it be for your website home page, a brochure or a sales page, it’s vital to do your research. Find out what your clients want and the language they use, ensure you have a consistent brand voice that speaks this language and focus on the benefits of what you offer.
3. Switch off your internal editor. You can't simultaneously create and edit at the same time, it's exhausting. Once you've done your research and planned a structure, allow the writing to flow, have a break and then (and only then) come back and edit.
Great writing is rewriting.
For more ideas: this frank, amusing blog entry from Chuck Wendig is perfect for giving aspiring writers a good kick.
*at least in the US where I found this figure several times.