Write Like the Pros
Ever read something that just doesn't sound right? It may be hard to put your finger on, but the copy feels awkward. You find yourself devoting more attention to the writing than to the message it's trying to convey.
Or maybe you've tried to write something, and the words that sounded so good in your head don't quite make it onto the paper in front of you.
Whether you're the writer or the reader, you may be a victim of amateur writing. It's not that it's bad necessarily. It's just not quite good enough.
If you're struggling to find that bit of je ne sais quoi that makes copy come alive on the page, maybe this will help.
It's an abbreviated "Pro-Am" checklist that contrasts a few writing techniques. It's arbitrary and not remotely complete. There are thousands more; enough for someone to write a book (hmmmm...). See if any of these sound uncomfortably familiar:
- Ams can't write unless they're "inspired."
- Pros write every day. They know that, just as with musicians, there's no such thing as too much practice.
- Ams Just want to get it down. Because they don't write every day, it never becomes second nature, so they feel relieved when the chore of writing is done.
- Pros want to get it as right as it can be. They revise. And revise. And keep revising right up to the deadline.
- Ams want to cram everything they think is relevant into a package. They try to say it all and, as a result, say nothing.
- Pros stick to one point. They establish the thesis early, and stay with that topic, and emotional response, until they've led the reader in a straight line from the attention-getting lead to the motivating conclusion.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 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, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.