Why Are You Tinkering with (My) Perfection?

This post was written by John White on Mon, 20 Jul 2009 12:08:29 +0000
Posted Under: marketing manager,process of writing,rapport with writer,review loop

tinker_73928db106Do you ever feel this way? Have you ever hired a writer who felt this way? Worse yet, did somebody else in the writing process make this complaint?

Sometimes it’s not just you and the writer and the subject matter expert working on your content. Sometimes an outside force like a PR agency or another marketing manager gets involved in the process as well. Your writer shouldn’t have the last word in the piece, but frankly, the more cooks there are in the kitchen, the less the writer feels ownership, and the more difficult it is for you to get what you need from her.

Several problems develop as the kitchen gets crowded:

  1. People become proprietary about their ideas and text. Your writer should be more professional than that, but some of the other participants may resent attempts to tinker with their perfection.
  2. With each round of revisions, people have a bit less patience for the process and wish it were over. Their comments and changes often reflect this.
  3. After a while, it becomes difficult to see who owns the piece and, therefore, who is responsible for cleaning up the final product.

Here’s an example:

A marketing manager hires a PR firm to interview clients and capture information on an emerging technology trend – objective: white paper. The PR firm then hires a writer for the paper.

Two weeks later, the PR firm and the writer have a solid draft based on the information from the interviews. The firm shows it to the client, who changes it six ways from Tuesday and returns it to the PR firm.

Are you setting your writer up for failure, or should the writer edit this new draft?

In spite of the fact that the writer doesn’t really “own” it anymore, and that it little resembles the first draft, a professional writer will suck it up and keep working on it. If the client is making changes this radical, somebody upstream must have misunderstood the original intent, and everybody needs to help get the final version out the door.

Moral: Unless you have access to a dedicated editor, you should make it an explicit requirement that the writer you hire will see the project through – regardless of who makes changes – and not worry about having her perfection tinkered with.

photo credit: xmacex

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