HomeWebsite StrategyDon’t Be Content with Your Content

Don’t Be Content with Your Content

Ahhhhh Awesome! It’s time to edit your content, said no one ever.

Really, if one just sits in front of a computer and begins to type, something (be it relevant or not) is going to make its way on the screen. Which is really cool if you think about it. I can create when ever I am in the mood and it does not matter if I end up with really bad poetry or a great concept for a novel. I’m not wasting any resources in writing, thus, I should be doing it all the time. Big word that I dropped there. Should. Yikes. I’ve even slacked on writing THIS VERY BLOG. Why? Because I am super lazy. Also, I thought about all the words that would have to fit together to make this a cohesive (sorta?) bit of writing that was both interesting to read and has an inherent value to those that are gonna spend a thousand words with me. That thought alone sent me slacking. But really it’s not the writing that bugs me, I love to write. It’s the editing. I have roughly (exactly) 186 words on this page to this point and I have already gone back through the paragraph above 7 times. That is madness, and a ton of work.

8 edits in now and I’m just starting to hit my groove with paragraph two. A lot of advice exists in the world that is going to teach you how to write and how to edit. Things like this and this and this thingy over here and these people are all telling you the same thing. Your first draft of anything is crap and it needs to be looked at several times to become not crap (I propose we use the word uncrap for this). So where to begin? I would suggest that you stop thinking about editing and just write but that is horrible advice. Instead I propose this. Suck it up. For real. I hate to wake up every morning at 5 am in order to run 2 miles just to maintain this less than stellar body, but I do it. Why, because it needs to be done. I have a son and a wife and they want me to live as long as I can (and also, I’m terrified of death) so I get up and run. Same goes for your writing. Your website needs content so write it.

11 edits in and I am just now getting to the freaking point. I mentioned last week that one should have conversations with people who know your company and edit them (you will NEVER get away from editing e.g. see above) to the best bits and turn them into content. Well how should you edit? Are you really thinking about that question, or are you just mad at me for stalling because you want me to answer it? Moving on, you should start by writing the very best thing that you can from second one. It will be horrible, like this clip bad, but you still must start with your best shot. This might be a bit over board, but write every word carefully because like tip-toeing through a garden without a path, the wrong word (or step) will crush something that is beautiful. I know that is maybe the most dramatic thing you will hear today, but your words have muscle and they can crush much easier than they can lift. Your very best will become better as you write more often. Trust me, I know. I went back to some essays that I wrote my first year at university and threw up a little in my mouth from reading them. As time went on I got better, way better. I am very confident that I would get at least a B+ in that class if I were to take it presently.

15 edits and my excellent (all be it imaginary) grade aside, I have another tip for you that might seem more than a little crazy at first. Read, a lot. Read everything all the time. Cereal boxes, lotion bottles, billboards, newspapers, books, and the internet are all things that have words and thus should be read. The only specific book that I am going to tell you to read is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. It is the essential book for how to write like a technical expert. It is not, however, the end all be all. One can write to the technical T and still be horrible to read. Thus, I will make another crazy recommendation. You should write something that you would want to read, lots. Want to know why? Because you will be reading what you write, lots. If what you write is still appealing to you after, say, seventeen edits, then you are on the right track. There are no methods for how your writing should read, but if you take the elements from other writings that you like and begin to use them, well, you might just come out with material that you love.

I am rocking out with 20 edits out to this point and need to wrap it up so I will by saying this. I have only covered the self editing portions of writing in this post and if there were to be one over all theme that is to be taken away it is that you will only create content by editing your content and you will only get good at that by doing it (Malcolm Gladwell is calling and wants 10K hours from you). This might go so far as to suggest an overall life style change, but really. Stuff is there already, just read it, then write it. Next week we will voyage into the world of peer edits. This will be more about how to defend your writing and when to know that what you wrote is crap and needs to be redone so as to become uncrap (this will be a word some day, ohh yes, it will). I will leave you with this thought. If you write 986 words, and at the end (around the 27th edit) you think that it is all crap, start over. It worked for this blog post and it can work for you.