Ahhh the reductionists - the ‘it’s just twenty two grown men kicking an inflated sheep’s bladder around a field,’ ists. The ‘we’re just made of water and carbon,’ ists. The ‘all you do is point and press record,’ ists.
Even the, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is clarify your goals, plot a user journey, finalise a structure, hone your message and fill in the blanks,” ists.
There’s no arguing with them. They’re absolutely right. On the whole. Life sieved and sundried leaving only salt.
The bare facts. The bones. Largely indisputable. For the most part irrefutable.
Like most of Andy’s Good Business Writing Doesn't Mean Slitting Your Wrists post.
Because there’s zero arguing with the need for a vivid understanding of your objective, your readers, their lives and the journey you need to take them on - yes, yes, yes and yes. Essentials. All essentials.
And yes too to planning, to structure and to execution.
But all that preparation is only the beginning.
Honing the message is where the blood’s shed.
Read or dead
The real strength, the real power of the process - more than just an exercise in vacuum packing prose is in the next stage, the re-animation. The breathing life into. The bringing to life of.
The sparks that transform - ‘All is not right’ into ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’
Or, ‘Show don’t tell’ into ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
Or ‘Guinness is good for you’ to ‘Made of more.’
Or ‘Writing can be really difficult’ into, ‘There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein’.
Or even mucking about with near homophones.
Or sodium chloride.
It’s nothing to do with garrets or tragic heroism, artistic angst or romance.
It’s everything to do with slapping distracted cheeks, snapping thin air and snagging attention.
And in the process creating a space in which to not just shape and hone your arguments, but to also conceive fresh thinking along the way.
Analogy, surprise, meter, metaphor, memory, alliteration, colour, voodoo, relevance, humour, uselessness, usefulness, connection, blood loss? Do it. Do anything and everything in your power to hold you reader close.
Words written for money deserve to be worth reading. Especially words written for money.
If they’re not read they’re dead.
Obligatory Ogilvy quote, "You cannot bore people into buying your product; you can only interest them in buying it."
Analogy, surprise, meter, metaphor, memory, alliteration, colour, voodoo, relevance, humour, uselessness, usefulness, connection, blood loss? Do it.
Or as Reg one said, “You gotta put a little bit of ****ing fairy dust over the b*****d.”
And yeah, this post has taken me bloody ages. And yeah I’ll feel faint.
But you read it.
So that’s OK.