Conquer Writer’s Block

Are you searching for a way to say what you want to say? Or are ideas crowding into your mind and fighting for primacy? Or do you have no idea what you should write about?

All of those problems are forms of writer’s block.

Here are four techniques that should help you regardless of the type and cause of your writer’s block:

  1. Talk. Pull out a chair. Pretend your best customer, the one you feel most relaxed with, is sitting in the chair and asks a question. Talk to the customer. Transcribe exactly the words that come from your mouth.
  2. Make a drawing. Either diagram what you intend to say or just doodle. If you are struggling for ideas, the act of drawing frees up the creative part of your brain. If you are overwhelmed by your ideas, a drawing shows you their logical progression from top to bottom, left to right, first to last or big to small.
  3. List all  your ideas. Once the ideas are listed, see if they fall into natural groups or overlap each other. Concentrate on one group at a time and ignore all the others. You don’t have to jam every idea into one brochure, blog, newsletter, web page, or chapter. There will always be another opportunity to write.
  4. Start writing about anything. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, flow or even relevance. Hold off on editing until after you finish writing. I guarantee that the last sentence you write will capture a golden idea.

If none of these techniques conquer your writer’s block, consider hiring a professional writer. Your marketing and technical content can’t start working for you until your customers receive it. How long do you want to wait for that moment of inspiration?

Contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications and we’ll make sure your words mean business.

What Professional Writers Know about DIY

I’ve written professionally during my entire career, starting in Fortune 500 companies and for the last 16 years as a freelancer. During that time I’ve seen three common writing mistakes in do-it-yourself websites, blog posts, newsletters, case studies and other marketing materials.

Writing Mistake #1: Most DIY writers fall in two categories. The first is so determined to have every word correct that they never actually issue anything. They know they need to revise the website, post another blog, send out the newsletter; months pass, and nothing changes. The second type of DIY writer delivers any message that comes to mind, whether or not it resonates with their audience and whether or not the audience is there to receive it. One nonprofit I know was trapped at 9 likes on Facebook; then they hired a professional and soared to 109 likes in two months, because the professional actually knew how to use Facebook and connect with the nonprofit’s audience. The moral here? If you can’t or won’t do it yourself, admit it–and hire a professional writer.

Writing Mistake #2: Many DIY writers forget that their audience needs and wants to be educated. Instead of explaining what their company does and why, those writers concentrate on listing products and services. Unfortunately, most products and services have lots of competition in the marketplace. It’s the how and why that differentiates companies. The solution? Hire a professional writer who asks the same questions that your customers would ask and envisions marketing materials that tell your unique story.

Writing Mistake #3. More is not necessarily better. Customers have a limited time to read through your marketing materials and a limited tolerance for repeated email blasts. Concise writing with a punch has the greatest value. Target your marketing collateral so that you remain fresh in customers’ minds without becoming an annoyance. A professional writer can help you develop a campaign that is focused and interesting.

TWP Marketing & Technical Communications has provided professional writing to B2B and B2C businesses large and small since 1999. We’d be delighted to help you.

English as a Second Language

For budget reasons as well as for expertise, companies may hire marketing writers, technical writers, SEO specialists, and others who speak and write English as a second language. As someone who understands only one language–English–I am in awe of those who communicate in several languages. But writing English as a second language is difficult.

One of the services offered by my company, TWP Marketing & Technical Publications, is to review content written by those who learned English as a second language. I revise the content to match professional standard English. The companies who take advantage of this service range from corporations with an international staff to local business owners who have hired offshore sole-proprietorships to handle specific tasks.

In the course of helping companies, I’ve discovered four main areas where writers who learned English as a second language may run into problems:

  1. A misunderstanding of the subtleties of English, where there are many synonyms for a concept (for example, using “chattels” as a synonym for “assets”).
  2. A tendency to choose words for their proximity in sound or spelling to another word, whether or not they share a meaning (for example, assuming that “fixative” is the same as “fixture”).
  3. The substitution of the writer’s native grammar for English grammar, leading to a dropping of words (such as “a” and “the”), a reversal of sentence structure, and similar issues.
  4. Lack of knowledge of the culture, leading to assertions that are not appropriate to the company or its customers.

The result is a sentence like this one: “Depending on desirable taste of clientele, our team adorns living space with new trends, modern or rustic.” The writer meant to write something like, “Our team designs your living room to match your tastes and the latest trends, whether modern or rustic.”

That’s why TWP Marketing & Technical Communications helps so many companies make the transition to clear, passionate, accurate and professional English. Contact us today.

Writing with Authority

Countless blogs have been written, for men and women, about speaking with authority in meetings and before groups of employees, executives and peers. When it comes to writing with authority, not a single writer speaks up! Here are a few tips I’ve gathered over the years as a professional writer:

Tip 1. Do not write to impress; write to communicate. You convey more authority if you contain the long explanations, self-congratulations and business jargon. (“In regard to your recent communication, we are proud to extend to you the following proposal for installing our state-of-the-art, quality engineered product….”)

Tip 2. Be kind to your audience. You are the expert at what you do. Explain or avoid technical terms and acronyms, especially if they are peculiar to your company. You may think that “everyone knows that” but if they don’t, you’ve lost your audience.

Tip 3. Deliver your main point in the opening sentence or paragraph. A few years ago, researchers collected emails from C-level executives and their employees and found that C-level executives communicated with fewer words and shorter sentences, primarily because they got to the point faster. If background and explanations are essential, let your correspondent know you have provided them after the conclusions.

Tip 4. Know when to stop writing. If you aren’t communicating by email, then stop communicating by email: pick up the phone.

If your proposals, blogs, letters to customers, emails to management or employees or marketing copy are not projecting authority, contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications. Our words mean business.