On a Friday, when I was in high school, my teacher walked into the class and said to me, “Chisom, I want you to write a story and submit it to me on Monday.” I did the task and submitted it as she directed. Little did I know that my story, which eventually won a prize for the school, would be entered for a competition at the state level to mark the appreciation of literature. That was when I discovered my skill as a writer.
Writing can be a daunting and overwhelming task if it isn’t sparked by passion. In fact, some have expressed their lack of interest in writing, which makes writing a sought-after skill, especially in the communications industry. However, the narrative is slightly different for communications professionals as writing remains at the centre of their practice. For these communications professionals, it really isn’t much about passion but duty.
While there are a thousand and one tips on writing which includes the fundamentals in building your skill as a writer, and ‘how-to’ write, my purpose is to discuss YOU as a writer, to help you write effectively, whether it is born out of passion or duty.
Be Wary of the Impostor Syndrome: When my teacher told me to write the script, I actually declined. I hesitated because I had no prior experience. I didn’t believe in myself, but she did. She said, “Chisom, don’t worry. Just submit it on Monday.”
The impostor syndrome is like a divide within you, saying you’re not good enough and you won’t do well. Born out of fear of failure, even when you’ve had all the experiences you require, it sometimes resurfaces when you have a new task. As a writer, you need to be confident in yourself, your skill and your message.
Avoid the urge to be perfect especially in your first draft and be brave enough to submit it. Sometimes, we feel we haven’t captured all we want to say, and then tear it up, only to start again. In most cases, your client or employer could be thrilled with your first draft. Maybe with a few edits, it could become perfect. But first of all, BE CONFIDENT.
Use Your Imagination as a Creative Resource: Recently, a friend reached out and said that she didn’t feel she had a creative angle. All she does is write but without creativity and without creativity, there is no direction. Being creative to attract and sustain attention is very vital in writing. From the headline/title to the lead/introduction and further down that tunnel to the conclusion requires a level of creative output.
With our case study of my experience, the drama I submitted the following Monday was about life on campus. At that time, I knew just a little about campus life, but I built on those few things to create a reality that exists with my imagination.
Secondly, I have written for clients with whom I had no personal experience or interaction with their product or service. I couldn’t figure out with ease why the target should be interested in my message but with a few vivid pictures I created in my mind’s eye, I found a creative approach, and guess what? It paid off!
Imagination – making mental pictures – leverages ideas that you can translate into words. If you can see it before writing, then your audience will see it too when reading. After getting the facts and figures, you should get creative with your ideas. Note also that CREATIVITY LIES WITHIN.
Managing Creative Block: Usually, when you talk about creativity, you should also be prepared for the creative block. This is a situation where you want to get creative with your writing but for some reason, it proves abortive. This is clearly not a situation where you feel you don’t have that creative angle, it’s a question of why finding it is so elusive.
It happens, and maybe a lot to some persons but how do you manage creative blocks, especially when you have a deadline? It could be disconcerting but here’s my advice: (1) take a break and rest. (2) consume other creative contents.
Here’s also why: Usually, the brain could be stressed and needs rest. Your mind or subconscious might also be processing a number of things or information simultaneously and if you don’t give it time to settle, you’ll be stuck. Lastly, working under the pressure of a deadline isn’t such a good mental atmosphere for you to get that creative angle, so, instead of trying to force something out when in creative block situations, take a time-out and indulge in other lighthearted activities that can spark your creativity. Therefore, KNOW WHEN TO REST.
Develop a Unique Style: Finding your unique voice and staying consistent with it is also very vital as a writer. You want your audience to connect with you through your message, and this is not necessarily a function of the message, but of your style of communication.
This is basically the HOW you pass your message – the tone and the voice, which is also dependent on the purpose of writing, and what you want your audience to feel. You must have heard the saying that what you say matters but how you say it matters more. The HOW in this regard, evokes the emotion you want your audience to feel and the resulting action they should take. However, focusing on the HOW could make you lose focus on the WHAT and the WHY. The WHAT is the message you are communicating and the WHY ensures that you are communicating the value in the message. If for instance, you work for a company that is professional in style and filled with industry-related jargons, you might be able to blend your style with your company’s style to make your content more professionally appealing. So in developing and staying consistent with your style, always keep an eye on the WHAT, HOW and WHY.
Communicate Effectively and Efficiently: Effective and efficient communication borders on being concise, clear, coherent and simple, without losing the intended message or meaning. As a writer, I had the challenge of writing long sentences, it didn’t occur to me that LESS IS actually MORE.
It is always preferable to be brief and straight to the point. Your message should also be clear and easily comprehensible to sustain the readers’ interest. If readers find it difficult to understand your message or become bored while reading, then your message had the least impact.
However,in situations where you need to be elaborate, but make sure not to go overboard with your message. For instance, information overload can be overwhelming for the receiver, and no reader wants to be in such a situation. So, communicate as efficiently, succinctly and effectively as possible.
You’ll make a very good writer in your niche when you apply these and other fundamental tips such as research, reading extensively, studying the art of writing, defining your audience, writing spontaneously, editing and proofreading. Also, whenever you get your ideas flowing, make sure to start writing. Don’t make the mistake of postponing; you could either lose the zeal to write or the ideas, or both.