Last year when I started this blog, I lamented the fact that I simply couldn’t write pithy emails. For some reason, my emotion for people tripped me up so gushingly I may as well have written to a guy from Staples:
“Dear Bruce, thanks for the chat the other day. Let’s have dinner over violins and maracas; by the way, the laminator you sold me is great.”
Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, I’ve never bought a laminator. But the point is writing improves when a draft is left to sit a little, without a peek.
Everything we write needs an editing process. I’d suggest, even the smallest email. For it staggers me how much can change between multiple versions. It’s one of the most beautiful things about writing for me.
Cutting thousands of words to hundreds: a good client will force that pressure on you—and hey, that’s what we’re paid for. Yes, you can take 3000 words to 500 with a smile and a much better product at the end.
Yet, even when I think I’ve nailed it, a further day usually brings a tweak of surprise. Like a when I discover that a word choice I’ve employed brings an unintended dual meaning.
Enter the art of empathy: pausing to spend time in another person’s shoes. Enter another one too: resiliency against a pause’s effect on self-esteem—the feeling that “well, maybe I shouldn’t publish this after all”.
For now, know that unless your work is so vital to world affairs—like that rapid-fire series of presidential communiques in Tom Clancy’s “Sum of All Fears”—just hit save, then print and put the whole in a drawer for fresh eyes in the morrow.
It’s not a guarantee of perfection but it’s definitely a solid way to write with effect.
© 2016 Adam Parker.