Influence people

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Birds Sing from the Heart

Author and content marketer Erik Deckers recently invited me to discuss "My Writing Process," a dead-horse topic if there ever were one.

But I'll beat that horse anyway, just because Erik asked. Here you go:

Where I find ideas. The wellsprings of ideas are many and inexhaustible. The ones I return to again and again are:

  • Other writers—from the sublime (e.g., Emerson, Faulkner, Sartre, Updike) to the ridiculous (names withheld) 
  • Pop culture (songs, movies, TV shows, blogs, etc.)
  • Current events (AKA La Com├ędie humaine)
  • Memories, dreams, reflections 
  • Other people's observations (Take my wife's. Please.) 
How I write the ideas down. My secret sauce is no secret. Writing isn't thinking. It isn't even writing. "Writing is revision," as Tracy Kidder says. "Write once, edit five times," David Ogilvy urged office mates. Priceless advice. Your fifth draft may not excel, but it will beat your first by a long shot. And, as you edit five times, be like the birds. An ornithologist mentioned during a recent NPR interview that birds' voice boxes are lodged deep within their chests. "Birds sing from the heart," she said. You should, too. Readers like it and respond accordingly.

How I assure quality. Copy's never error free, but I try hard to check my facts. In fact, I often spend more time fact-checking sources than writing and editing. (Don't hem and haw: fact-checking is enlightening.) And I proofread, both twice before I hit publish and twice afterwards. Boring task, but my reputation's on the line.

How I spread ideas. Outposting has helped aggrandize my scribblings more than any of my other activities. Adman Gary Slack advises clients to invest in "other people's audiences" more than their own. He's 100% on the money.

For more advice about writing. If you're hungry for sound advice, listen to Paul Simon and Chuck Close discuss the creative process in a podcast for The Atlantic. You'll learn more than you will by reading 50 how-to books, with these four noteworthy exceptions: 

Oh, yea, don't forget No Bullshit Social Media.

NOTE: This post originally appeared in Erik Deckers' blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.