6 (More) Habits of Highly Effective Fundraising Writers
How's the novel coming? You do have one in the works, right? I think 90 percent of the fundraising copywriters I know are working on one.
It's one of the peculiar things about copywriters. When we're not writing for a living, we're often writing to relax (something we have in common with professional musicians).
There's a review in last week's Guardian of the new book "Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work: How Artists Work" by Mason Currey.
Unlike my column from last week, Currey's book is more than a collection of scriveners' curiosities. While its real message is that, as the author says, "there's no right way to get things done," you can discover certain practices that emerge as fairly common among successful writers.
So, from last week's eccentricities to this week's enlightenment checklist, here are six things great writers do that you can too:
1. Get up early
Plenty of great writers do their thing at night, but as Currey quotes Hemingway, in the morning, "there is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write."
2. Don't give up your day job
T.S. Eliot was a banker, William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician and William Faulkner worked the night shift at a power plant. Franz Kafka worked in an insurance office (but you have to ask yourself, "Do I want to write like Kafka?"). Temperamental artists all, but each was still practical enough to work around his steady source of income. They understood that most starving artists did exactly that: starve.
3. Take a hike
Yes, great ideas come at 2 in the morning and in the shower. But it's not the moon or hot water that coaxes them out. Plenty of studies show that taking a little downtime is conducive to creativity. Specifically, walking in the woods or surrounding yourself with greenery helps budding ideas blossom. It's ironic but true that almost any activity other than sitting at a desk all day will encourage new ideas. This is truer than ever now, when your computer screen has a million distractions that will pull you away from concentrating on writing if you let them.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.