Writing Quality Content
Anyone with a little knowledge about writing processes probably doesn’t need to read on. For those wanting additional insight, I’ve done my best to lend some transparency to the writing process, perhaps answering the question on many people’s lips upon receiving their invoice: “How could 300 ‘simple’ words possibly take 2.5 hours to write??”
- It’s the nature and purpose of good content to be easily read and interpreted with minimal effort from the reader, yet that simplicity can be painstakingly difficult for a writer to achieve. Ironically, it’s that apparent effortlessness which commonly has people asking “How could 300 ‘simple’ words possibly take 2.5 hours to write?
- Essayist Paul Graham, wisely said, “The easy, conversational tone of good writing comes only on the eighth rewrite.” If you’re in any doubt, confirmation is easily obtained by sitting down and ‘knocking out’ 300 great words with a timer on.
- Word count can be a general guide for judging a writer’s time investment, but it’s often inaccurate, hence the famous quote, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
- Human beings are instinctive creatures. When speaking face-to-face, you have all sorts of indicators to reassure your audience that you and your message are both genuine and worth sticking around to listen to. Your intellect, energy, and ability to stand behind your message can all be discerned in a matter of seconds. On paper, however, it’s a different thing entirely. You have just one tool – words. Those words need to engage the reader instantly, hold their attention, establish credibility and evoke emotions which resonate or stimulating, depending on your objectives.
- When creating content for business, you have a few more obligations. You have to persuade, entice, reassure, and convince – and you must do it authentically because no one likes a blatant pitch. Your writing priority isn’t to offer your opinion, but to convey your client’s message with the intention of reaching a target audience. The reality is, you’re selling people something in some way, shape or form; an idea, business, product, a person, even a pastime.
- Without the advantage of body language, the tone of voice and other cues, a writer must search for a finely balanced selection of words which sell your message in the most authentic way possible. Hundreds might do, but often there’s only one, or perhaps two combinations which are just right; words which fit your client’s message like a glove and tell it in a way that won’t have your reader slowly backing out of the room. Given that, it’s not unusual for a writer to spend 15 minutes rearranging the flow of one sentence to sound smooth, eliminate any feeling of cliche and perfectly capture an original, fresh concept.
- Creative or meaningful writing is rarely achieved in a linear ‘beginning-middle-end’ process, but if it is, you’ll probably find the result to be wooden, lacking in depth or uninspired. An exception to this rule could exist when writing technical or research documents, where a linear approach is required for structure, accuracy and academic rigour.
Conclusion? You’ll always find someone quicker or cheaper, it just depends on how important quality is to you for the particular piece you have in mind. When my focus shifts to reducing time, it manifests directly in the quality of my writing. Therefore, I spend as long as it takes, but no longer than it needs, to translate a client’s message to the best of my ability. In turn, they’ll receive the benefit of a quality piece of content which will stand out from the crowd.