“If your position requires you to do any formal writing – and nearly every position does – you’ve felt the terror of the blank page.”
“You’re not alone,” copywriter Robert Lerose wrote in an issue of DM News. “Professional writers,” he says, have developed procedures that get them over that hump.
Specifically, he notes, they:
Define copy goals
Before you type a single word, Lerose advises, define exactly what you are aiming to accomplish with your copy.
Know your audience Get a good fix on the hot buttons of the people you are trying to reach.
Do your homework “Find out what your audience needs and wants to know from your communication,” Lerose urges.
Take a break
Take a walk. Or a hot bath. Or play a round of golf. Or make a Dagwood sandwich. Do anything that has nothing to do with your assignment. Your subconscious brain will be working all the while.
Jot down ideas
No matter how oddball they seem, ideas will emerge that you can use in copy. Keep a writing pad in your pocket, or on your bedside table at night, and write down everything that pops up. You can always edit out nonsense later.
Organize your material
Take a critical look at the ideas you have noted down. Choose the ones that bear most directly on your project. Outline them.
Write a draft
Following your outline (or changing it as you go along – if that feels like a good idea), write a first draft.
Your draft may be perfect at first blush. More likely, a critical reading by you will reveal its strong and weak points. Expand on its strengths. And mercilessly trim away at the flab. Do not fall in love with your own rhetoric. Cast a cold eye on your copy. And revise.
Show your revised copy to the elevator operator
A critique at this point by readers who have had no contact with your project often can detect glaring lapses that could depress response.
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