I learned to write after 23 years of writing

>A little more than 23 years ago, I began putting words onto paper and getting paid to do it. I started working on a trade magazine in the furniture industry and have since produced a safety magazine in agricultural insurance, an employee magazine, a dairy producer newsletter, print ads, news releases, magazines, television commercials, corporate newsletters, radio ads, posters, displays and myriad other things filled with words.

But only learned to write about a year ago.

A friend, Mike Wagner of OwnYourBrand.com handed me a copy of the
Secrets of the Wizard of Ads, a book by Roy Williams over at the the Wizard Academy. It’s a wonderful book of short essays that really focus on the spirit of writing, the importance of crafting stories. And it changed the way I look at writing.

I’ve always had to look hard for the story in any story: my publisher used to assign me stories based on an advertiser’s claim, telling me “You’ll find the story when you get there!” And I was pretty good at it, but I didn’t love writing and it showed. Writing was just something I did between creating big ideas, crafting strategies that build upon each other and trying to be a designer (that’s another post for another day).

After reading the Wizard of Ads, I’ve been slowing down, digging deep for the story inside the story, trying to cut away anything that doesn’t capture the imagination and attention of the reader.

Blogging is a good work out for cutting the fat in your copy. So is working with graphic designers who want less copy all the time. Just this last week, I was working on some lean copy, and I got really defensive really fast when a co-worker started saying we might cut it down even more, and use some bullets. But bullets don’t deliver passion and energy and rhythm, so I went back to the keyboard and started microsurgery, trimming little pieces of fat here and there until the copy was free any any unnecessary calorie.

We’ll see if it satisfies when the rest of the team get their teeth into it.

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One Response to I learned to write after 23 years of writing

  1. Nancy Carter says:

    >Well I haven’t been writing for 23 years, but I can totally relate to feeling like, “Hey, I’ve finally got it!”I got my first taste of pr & marketing writing last year and was suprised when I felt like I’d found my niche as a storyteller. I absolutely LOVE it when I can tell a story about a company that get other people’s attention and makes them feel connected to the company. True, it’s tough when I’m trying to cram something meaningful into 15 seconds or 3 sentences, but it’s very rewarding. I never would have known that writing would lead me into pr/marketing, but I’m really glad that it has.

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