Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Lynda Partner’s Writing Workout
Craig sent me a gem of a post by Lynda Partner on the OneDegree website: Cut the Blah Blah Blah—When Less is the New More. The post advocates stripping writing until only the most necessary, powerful words remain, allowing meaning and core messages to shine through to readers. Here’s an excerpt:
In 1868, writer Mark Twain said
“Anybody can have ideas—the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.”
In an age where attention spans are shrinking, and 140 character sound bites are all you are allowed on marketing vehicles like Twitter, it is once again time for writing less to become a valued marketing skill.
I couldn’t agree more. In The Power of Slow and Spare, I wrote:
When you’re excited about something your business is doing—a new initiative or product, for example—it’s tempting to want to include in your press release every one of the 34 reasons it’s so great. And explain each reason in depth. And quote all the people who were involved in the idea. And give background. And context. And related information.
But guess what?
Most people will abandon your press release unless you relinquish your dream of including everything you’d ideally like to say. Our society is time-starved as well as compelled to cram as many sources of information in as possible—we are news grazers, not gourmands.
What I love about Partner’s post is that she includes ten tips to apply to the way you describe your own business that will help you distill your message to its absolute core. Here’s Tip #7:
Count how many times you used your product or company name or the word “we.” If it’s more than once in every 500 words, ask yourself if you are writing about you or for your reader. For every statement you write, answer the question “what does this mean for my reader?”
I’m going to sit with those ten tips tomorrow and chew them over. I want to see where the exercise gets me. If nothing else it will be exercise, and exercise is the only way to become a better writer.