The blank page is a big obstacle almost every writer faces on almost every piece. You can play an important role in helping your writer over the hump, and get better writing in the bargain.
Every piece that your marketing communications writer sends you started out as a cursor blinking on a completely empty screen.
Whether he had an idea of what he was going to write or not, he stared at the blank page for a while and tried to come up with something good for you, something that would impress you and show that he understood your business. Most of all, he tried to figure out the best way to start so that the rest would be easy.
This isn’t writer’s block or any other writer’s disease. It’s just the hump that most writers need to overcome on almost every piece they write for you.
Although the hump is not your problem, getting good content from your writer is your problem.
Getting Over the Writing Hump
Without interfering in the process of writing, you can give the writer more of what he needs to get over the hump:
- More details about the ideal readers. Why is it so much easier to write valuable content for a loved one than for a stranger? It’s because you know what is important to her, how to phrase it and how she’ll react to it. The more information you give your writer about your ideal readers, the better he understands how to make your point. If you know the profile of your ideal readers well enough, and convey that profile to your writer, he can turn a white paper or case study into a love letter to them.
- A decent story. Which is more interesting: a new product announcement or the story behind the new product? Most marketing managers make the mistake of telling their writers, “We need a paper on our new cosmodemonic flubgrubbers. It should be about 1500 words long. I’ll send you background information and the engineer’s phone number.” What kind of story will come of that? You want people to read and remember the “once upon a time…” that they’ll tell their friends. If you give your writer the story that you want back, he’ll know how to start telling it.
- The call to action. What do you want the ideal readers to do at the end of the paper? Pick up the phone? Go to a Website? Click on a link? Pass it on? Send you money? Most marketing managers don’t even think about the call to action, which is why most marcomm pieces don’t even have a For More Information section at the end. If you don’t have anything to tell your readers to do at the end, then that’s exactly what they’ll do. If you tell your writer where you want your readers to go, it will be easier for him to start building the road that takes them there.
Remember: Overcoming this hump is not your problem; a professional writer knows how to overcome it himself. But you can play a role in helping him overcome it, and get better writing in the process.
photo credit: The U.S. Army