– The Secret to Effective Content Creation –
My mother bakes homemade bread like nobody’s business. She measures, mixes, kneads, punches, shapes, and, finally bakes the dough. At the end of the day rows of warm, buttered loaves line up on her kitchen table.
This is the writing process to me. Mix and arrange the words the way I like. Allow the piece to rest—don’t mess with it! Then after an appropriate length of time, take another look. Sentences and themes have risen and during the passing time my viewpoint has expanded. The piece is tweaked, punched down and shaped, then put away once again.
The words rise one last time, but I’m still not done. A trusted colleague, editor or critique group has a look and provides feedback. Then I shape it into final paragraphs and the piece is baked (published).
The finale? Serving it to an audience or client that devours, digests and benefits from focused, well-developed content.
Provided that steps weren’t skipped along the way, the result can be a tasty slice of writing that gets the job done. Whether it’s a physician letter to patients about a clinical study or a book chapter, the process for mixing up a palatable set of words is similar.
However, skimping on an ingredient, rushing, or skipping a step may produce inedible chunks of words, awkward sentences, and rambling phrases.
Writing takes time. For me, following these basic steps is crucial. Businesses benefit greatly by allotting the appropriate amount of time for writing content for projects. The waste that haste produces shows up as avoidable revisions, or a dissatisfied client seeking another vendor. Likewise, the opposite yields satisfied customers, award-winning writing, or repeat business that arises from your readers’ appetite.
[pullquote]”However excellent a writer’s skill, the brain can play tricks…[/pullquote]
However excellent a writer’s skill, the brain can play tricks and add words and letters to a phrase that aren’t there. The thought or intent of the author doesn’t always end up on the page. The fresh eyes of another can spot those omissions, hear the awkward phrases, and view the piece from their own professional experience. This external feedback is invaluable.
Consider proofreading. How important is it and what is the best method to accomplish the task? One can and should, of course, edit even while writing the first draft, and spellcheck is helpful, but that’s not the step to which I refer. I speak of two later phases: the let-it-rest step and the outside-eye step. The latter could involve designated company proofreaders, an outside editing service, or even a Saturday morning face-to-face critique group that gives the writing project a comb-through.
When the luxury of time is not present, the steps may be truncated but skipping them is risky. And a company constantly suffering from time crunches may do well to take a look at their general process to find out why last-minute emergencies keep occurring. Procrastination at writing the initial draft is a common culprit and can severely cramp the scheduled editing time.
The bottom line for quality writing—allow time to let it rise and take a second look.
For more writing tips, check out my recent post on the power of proofreaders.