The path to better writing for business and branding success begins by examining your writing expectations. Too many entrepreneurs set themselves up to fail by having unrealistic expectations about what they “should” be able to accomplish when they write their first draft.
These unrealistic expectations frequently lead to disappointment, frustration, procrastination, last-minute mistakes, and missed deadlines.
You can improve your ability to prepare all types of branding content, from articles and blog posts to books and ebooks, by replacing an unrealistic “one draft” expectation with a simple 7-step writing process.
After all, nobody–even Beethoven–created perfect first drafts!
Beethoven’s 14 “first drafts”
The best way you can appreciate the self-sabotage of allowing yourself to become discouraged from the way your first draft of a project turned out is to watch Part l of Leonard Bernstein’s inspiring Bernstein on Beethoven video discussing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
You can also obtain a DVD package containing Leonard Bernstein’s Beethoven study, along with other Bernstein Omnibus concert lectures, including jazz, J.S. Bach, opera, and Broadway musicals.
In that incredible televised lecture/concert, Leonard Bernstein shows how Beethoven wrote 14 different versions of the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 5, until he got it right!
As you listen to Leonard Bernstein playing selections from Beethoven’s discarded drafts on the piano and conducting a full orchestra, you get a new appreciation for the role that discipline and commitment–or, perhaps, trial-and-error–played in the success of one of history’s most creative individuals.
Applying Beethoven’s experiences to your writing
Clearly, your ability to write compelling business and marketing content will improve when you unshackle yourself from the “one draft” mentality, and build a review component into everything you write.
The key is to develop a writing process that creates the time and perspective that builds in the time necessary to review and improve your own writing.
And, that’s where the 7-steps come in!
From “Murk to Masterpiece” in 7 steps
Review plays an important role in the 7-step writing process in Geraldine Henze’s 1985 classic, From Murk to Masterpiece: The Importance of Style in Business Writing, which you can still find online from Amazon.com and other sources.
The 7-step method, condensed below, encourages the writer to write while thinking, breaking long projects into short steps that can be completed in relatively short writing sessions. The steps include:
- Information gathering, note-taking. Prepare the groundwork by locating facts and existing ideas.
- Incubating. This involves jotting down ideas and preliminary approaches, discussions with others, and allowing your subconscious mind to process ideas while you sleep.
- Planning. Planning doesn’t have to be elaborate; simple outlines with arrows jotted down on the back of a napkin can be enough.
- Draft. This is the first time that writing actually begins, expanding the narrative from bullet points to sentences and paragraphs.
- Rest. Put your work aside for at least a few hours, preferably, overnight.
- Revising, rewriting, editing. This step involves more time than writing the first draft, as you concentrate on readability, persuasiveness, and correctness.
- Formatting and proofing. The original list began with typing, which I replaced with formatting to emphasize adding and formatting subheads. Ideally, the best way to proof your writing is from a fresh, next-day perspective.
Is a 7-step program for you?
Is it worth the effort involved in committing to a 7-step better writing program? There’s no universal answer, and your decision will involve the seriousness of your intention to improve your writing for better business results and branding success. However, if you take a long-range view of the benefits that better writing can bring to your business and your brand, you’ll probably agree that there’s no better time to start than now. What do you think? Please share your concerns, opinions, and questions below, as comments.
Roger C. Parker‘s blog offers weekday writing tips and help choosing article and book titles for personal branding success.