How to Become a Better Content Writer

Posted 2 years ago in Small Business Tips
by Brad Hanks

Writing is everywhere. It remains the most commonly used medium to express information, especially marketing. Content marketing involves writing scripts, blurbs, blogs, social media posts, and other types of copy.

So here’s my confession. Ready? I am a content writer that has been running away from writing my whole life.

I don’t like writing. I agree with the Roald Dahl—good writing is essentially rewriting. And if there is one thing I hate, it’s doing something over and over again. I don’t even like to see the same movie twice. The first time is a magical process. The second time becomes predictable and after that it just degenerates with each watch.

Writing a first draft is a freeing process. You take everything that is banging around in your head and put it all down on paper. Then you can check it off the list and you can move on to the next thing.

But something I have had to learn about marketing is that writing content is a lot more work than that. The more you work behind the scenes, the better the results will be for someone who is seeing it for the first time.

Although I’m college educated and can put together a coherent though, I wouldn’t consider myself a good writer. I don’t think that I could make a living on my writing ability.

Here are some things I do wrong:

The problems

I don’t want to rewrite.

If I don’t publish a post right away, it will languish in limbo draft form for weeks, if I ever even get back to it.

I have a low pain threshold for incorporating criticism.

I don’t like editing and rewriting. I really hate evaluating my writing and thinking about how to make my writing more consumable. I believe that bad writing is the ultimate act of selfishness. If someone says something badly and it exists in a published form, readers will be very disappointed if it isn’t worth the time it took to read. And that’s a lot of pressure.

I am a slow typer.

It can be hard to whip out a well-thought, inspiring article when it takes me longer to type it up. The ideas in my head go faster than my fingers and it’s hard to keep up sometimes.

I am a little too afraid to put myself out there.

The best writing is authentic writing. Using a real voice is what creates a connection with the reader. If the customers can connect with the voice of the company, then the customers connect with the product and the brand. In order to engage with them that way, I have to put myself out there. My voice, writing style, and basic grammar skills will all be on display for the world to judge. It’s a very vulnerable position to be in.

The solutions

Don’t delay writing it down.

When I have an idea, I write it down right away. This helps the creative process because it gets past that initial writing barrier when you don’t know what to talk about. Writing gives you more ideas that will lead to more writing. I’m much more likely to write down a new idea if I just got done writing something else.

Keep writing.

I don’t always feel like I nailed a topic the first time, even after all the edits. I still don’t feel like a good writer. But even if I write an imperfect piece, I’m still better off for working through the writing process one more time. I can tell that I’m improving, and I can feel the process getting easier.

My typing speed also gets a little better as I write more. I am starting to get a little faster as I keep working on it.

Endure the pain of a rewrite.

Rewriting and editing are like weightlifting. It might be tough and a little painful, but I get better as I do it. The embarrassment of having someone else read and give feedback on my work is rough, but incorporating the edits and rewriting a better draft makes me a stronger writer.

Working with a good editor has helped me become a better editor and writer. I know what will be expected of me up front. Editors aren’t going to delve deep into a piece if it’s problematic on the surface. The more issues I can fix on my own, the better and nuanced the feedback can be.

Be yourself.

The best way to get over being scared of being vulnerable is to be vulnerable. I write even though I’m scared. I have the courage to take criticism from my editors. They clean up any errors. I rewrite. And then I put my work out there, for better or for worse. And I get better every time.

Don’t stop trying.

When I get discouraged, I think about Stephen King. How did he get so good? He made a goal to write 5000 words every day. A lot of that writing was never published, but he was able to get better through pure practice and has created literary masterpieces through that process. Louis C.K. throws away his whole act every year and starts over. Then he starts with his best joke from the previous year, raising the bar for the rest of his act. I am no Louis C.K. and no Stephen King, but I’m definitely better than I was before.

About Brad

Brad Hanks is in charge of Growth at ZipBooks.

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