It is actually quite difficult to write or edit for a living. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am not rocket scientist or neurosurgeon saving lives, so don’t feel sorry for me! It is just so often difficult knowing how much time a task or job will take me. I genuinely love what I do, but what the last 9 months (eek…where did that time go?!) has taught me, is that I could spend hours on each and every one of my jobs. I care about every task a client has commissioned me to do and, therefore, I always want to give it ‘one last check’, ‘one last edit’ or ‘one last re-working’. I find it incredibly hard to finalise a piece, let it go and send it back to a client. I think this is because, in most cases, the more time you spend on writing the better it becomes. The reality is that we can’t go on forever editing and making changes – it doesn’t make sense – financially or creatively – however, please don’t underestimate the importance of giving time to your written work.
How much time?
When I talk about ‘spending time’ on a project, quite a bit of this time is actually me doing nothing to it (don’t worry I don’t charge my clients for that bit!!!). This is the important element of allowing some ‘space’ between what I have edited or written and when I go back and look at it again. If it is something I have written from scratch, I like to leave at least a day, if not two! As I have said before in a number of blog posts, it is soooo difficult to proofread your own work. You read what you WANT to see, not what is actually in front of you. Allowing some time between writing and re-reading, at least makes the writing ‘fresh and new’ again, to an extent.
Different tasks; different days
With some projects, I add in an initial step of writing only notes or ideas down first. I do this a lot with my blog posts. I write some key points around a topic on one day, write it up another day, check and edit it on another day and then proofread it and post it on another day (usually a Thursday, you’ll notice!).
I know a lot of you may feel you don’t have 4 days to give over to writing something for your business, but let me reassure you that each of those tasks, though done on separate days, takes a relatively small amount of time. I actually believe it takes less time doing the individual elements on different days, than if I tried to do it all in one go. Writing notes and then going straight in to writing it up would probably mean I would miss more things. Also, when I come to the editing stage, I would need to add in those forgotten things and I believe my proofreading would be less than adequate. I would be tired and too familiar with the words in front of me to read them critically and identify mistakes.
The other advantage to breaking down a writing task in to chunks like those described above, is that hopefully it doesn’t seem so daunting. At the writing stage, I always feel reassured that I have another day (and chance) to rework what I am writing, so it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. If I am tired or rushing the writing stage, again I don’t worry and try to ensure when I am editing I’ll have a bit more time (or have had a bit more sleep!). I highlight areas I am not happy with but I don’t get stuck or bogged down, I just keep writing.
Words matter; choose carefully*
Word really do matter and taking the time to select them carefully is very important when writing. Whether it is a short Facebook post or the copy for your homepage, it is worth giving it your time and attention. It is worth checking the overall sense right down to the individual words. Make sure they are the right ones for your business and your brand. Are they truly conveying the message you want to communicate? Could you change a word to help improve the message, objective or goal of what you are writing? Can you choose more carefully?
Write well…give it your time and attention x
* As some of you may have seen, I have recently changed my cover photo on Facebook to include this quote. I love it … although after all of my years learning about copyright I feel incredibly uncomfortable not to be able to credit or reference it. If anyone knows who it is by or where it comes from, please let me know!