It’s time for a confession.
We hate writing.
Too often, it’s slow, arduous, and painful. The pain is compounded by the pressure that comes with knowing someone else might see – and judge – what we’ve written.
This confession may come as a surprise. At Consummate Prose Consulting, we’ve been writing (and editing) for decades. Why would we dedicate decades to something we hate?
Because we love having written. We crave the satisfaction of a task completed. We relish seeing words on the page, compelling ideas that are well thought out, engaging, and useful.
We love that feeling so much that we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping others find this same satisfaction. We love sharing ideas for overcoming writer’s block and other writing maladies.
However, we can’t deny that zillions of people around the world feel more hatred than love. It’s the reason why writing is “delegated” to someone else, why deadline after deadline whooshes by, and at least part of the reason why so much digital content nowadays consists of videos, podcasts, and infographics.
Putting words on a page is scary.
However, it’s important. Because writing well isn’t just for people who call themselves writers.
We’ve built an entire business around helping people not only do it, but do it well, with some enthusiasm, and with the ability to understand how writing is the building block for all great ideas. Without it, we wouldn’t make the leap to videos, podcasts, and infographics.
Lots of people struggle with writing well, but everyone can get better at it. Moreover, it’s vital for people in any growing organization to make writing effectively a priority.
Here are some things to consider when prioritizing writing – from the cubicle to the corner office.
Write to inspire
Think about some of the most inspirational speeches you’ve heard or read. Here’s one you might remember.
Why does this speech stand out? Maybe it’s because it was emotional. Or perhaps because it offered useful ideas for how to cope with adversity. Whatever the case, Sandberg had a point, and she illustrated it with personal anecdotes in a well-constructed speech.
This wasn’t the natural result of hopping on stage and riffing for 20 minutes. A memorable speech requires preparation: the ability to organize your thoughts and express them using vivid language that ordinary people can relate to (Berkeley audience notwithstanding).
Write to learn
“I write to discover what I know,” wrote novelist Flannery O’Connor.
Great ideas don’t happen overnight. They come with time, experience, and contemplation. Fundamentally, we’re all walking around with fragments of great ideas zinging around our brains. Writing is the first step in giving them order and meaning. It’s an act of meditation. It translates what perhaps once felt inarticulable into something that we can understand and talk about – so that others can understand and respond to it. It’s important for everyone, but especially so for CEOs.
Your ideas are your art; prose is your canvas.
Write to save time
Tedious meetings have given us the punchlines to countless cartoons and YouTube videos for years. Why? Because they waste valuable time we’d rather devote to productive work.
Think about it: Meetings are often a rehash of information we already know, or, worse, news we have no control over. They’re often formal, structured, impersonal events that offer little in the way of human connection or purposeful change. The most useful aspects could be conveyed in a brief email.
Now, apply this logic to the experiences of your customers and other stakeholders. If we look at writing as an efficiency tool – one that helps us deliver information quickly, clearly, and directly – we can calculate how much time and money we save by using it to streamline business functions and accelerate people’s understanding and buy-in. In this regard, writing well is the busy executive’s salvation.
Write to relate
Whether you’re telling a story, developing an idea, or managing a team, the goal is the same: to connect. Writing well can help you succeed. The most common refrain among professional writers is that plain, direct language will ensure you reach the widest possible audience.
However, when you master writing, you have the power to adjust your approach based on your audience. Tailoring communication to specific listeners or readers fosters intimacy. It builds culture and community through shared experience and vocabulary. It carries you one giant leap beyond connecting: You are building relationships. This is the coveted goal for every growing brand and innovative CEO.
Effective writing unlocks countless possibilities for the company and the people who grasp its business value. Consummate Prose can help your people – from the cubicle to the corner office – get better at it (and have fun along the way). Contact us today to get started.