In my last post, we reviewed the art of business writing. I shared my top six secrets to getting the words out on the page.
Now, we’re going to talk about the most important part of the process: polishing. It may not be fun or sexy or glamorous, but these eight steps are essential to getting what you want out of your words.
- Cut. Go back to the beginning and start deleting. Remove every unnecessary word. Refine confusing ideas. Eliminate meaningless jargon. Shave off as much as you possibly can without compromising meaning. Remember that readers have notoriously short attention spans. Keep it short and sweet.
- Edit. Whenever possible, ask someone else to revise your writing. If you must do it yourself, put it away for at least an hour and come back to it later. The goal is to find out if what you’ve written is clear, convincing, and compelling.
- Claim. Own your work by putting your name on it. Get personal with the reader in order to build trust and rapport. Give people multiple ways to contact or follow you.
- Publish. Before you change your mind, go to print. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Still hate what you wrote? Write a different piece later. Don’t worry so much. Your own judgements about your work are likely to be harsher than anyone else’s.
- Publicize. Post or share your piece on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Send it to your Chamber, community newspaper, or trade magazine. Email it to your mom. You bothered to write it; now bother other people to read it.
- Assess. Solicit feedback about your writing. Note whether or not your “call to action” has created the desired effect. It’s far less important to be a “good” writer than an “effective” writer.
- Regroup. Think about what worked, what didn’t, and where you really struggled. Make notes about your past writing experiences and how your materials could be improved.
- Outsource. If you’re truly dissatisfied with the results–or found the process unbearable–hire a professional writer or editor. (Be wary of sites like elance, where you get what you pay for. Good business writers typically charge between $50-95 per hour.)
- Smile. Take pride in finishing. Acknowledge your accomplishment. Remember: this is the moment that writers live for.
Writing is a skill, just like anything else. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. You’ll learn, over time, what works and what doesn’t.
Luckily, there is no such thing as perfection. No one else has your unique perspective or specific way of looking at things, and the only way they’ll see things the way that you do is by sharing your story. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed some of mine!
To get your story started, fill out the UVP worksheet and let me know you’re out there!