So be reassured if your words land on your computer screen in less than perfect form the first time. Be reassured if you spend hours adding, deleting and shuffling phrases, sentences and even whole paragraphs around your document and back again. And be reassured if you're just plain frustrated because it takes longer than you thought to get across the mood and meaning you want. Welcome to the writer's world!
For me there are 3 clearly-defined steps in the writing process.
Step 1 - Getting The Words Down On Paper
All you are doing here is putting information on paper. Everything you know about your topic. Every idea you have about your ideal client and how you can help them. Do it without censoring yourself. Keep writing until you have exhausted all the ideas you believe belong in your piece. Don't worry if you end up with seven pages of information and you only need three. You can go back and edit later.
Step 2 - Editing
Time to review and refine the content. What is absolutely necessary? What can be discarded? Are the ideas organized logically? Does it flow smoothly? Does your content precisely reflect the point you want to get across? Where are there gaps in information: are you making assumptions about how much people already know about your business?
In this step you're also looking for the right words. Not just any old words that say roughly what you want them to say, but the exact words that get your ideal clients excited about your product or service.
Step 3 - Proofreading
Here you're checking for consistency, spelling, punctuation, and the rules of grammar. Make sure that the company name is spelled correctly. Are you using the same format for the phone number each time it appears? Are periods and commas where they should be? Run it through a spell- checker.
You can get yourself into trouble by trying to do all these steps at once. But go about it in a systematic manner and your content will come together much more easily. Each of these steps can involve several rewrites until your material is polished and you're satisfied that it presents you to your best advantage. Be patient with yourself.
Mark Twain is reputed to have said: "If I'd had more time, I'd have written a shorter letter." That's the crux of the matter: it takes time and many rewrites to craft a focused, concise piece that gets your message across with clarity and no distractions.
Now it's your turn: take a look at whatever piece you're working on right now. Which of the above steps are you working on right now? Or are you trying to do them all at once?
Copyright 2004 The Dennison Group.