||Crow Moon Marketing
Copywriting & Design
How To Write Anything In Five Steps
By Rich Silver
There are countless books out there on how to write and I’ve read several. But when it gets down to it, it seems to me there are five steps to writing anything.
So no matter what it is you need to write, here’s a method you may find helpful in getting the job done.
To begin, I’ll make three assumptions:
Now, how do you begin to fill up the blank page?
Step 1: Just start writing.
If you’re waiting to find a good place to startor waiting for inspirationyou’re in for a long wait. Start anywhere. Begin to put down on paper or the computer screen whatever comes to mind. If you’re really stuck, then start writing “I am really stuck. I have this idea and I can’t get it going.” Write anything to get going.
Step 2: Write the first draft as fast as you can write.
Put away your dictionary. Forget about grammar. Spelling doesn’t matter. Don’t stop to think if what you’re writing makes perfect sense. Let all those thoughts and ideas you have in your head tumble out onto the page. Imagine the executioner is coming in 30 minutes and you have to write your entire life story.
Step 3: Write two or three times as much as you’ll use.
This is no time for brevity and no time for editing. If you are going to need 500 words, write 1,000.
Step 4: Edit, rewrite, and revise your work.
Have you placed the strongest paragraph as your lead? For ad copy, does your lead make a promise to the reader of what’s in it for them?
What words can you eliminate? Will two words suffice instead of the six you wrote? In step 2 above, I could have said, “write the first draft quickly.” Would it have affected my meaning?
Are your sentences too long? Can you turn a 30-word sentence into 2 sentences that are 12 and 18 words each? How’s the grammar and spelling?
Have you confused the reader with pronouns? Do they know what subject goes with whom, that, or which?
Have you cut out all the adverbs that are prettily dressing up your writing? Are you using strong verbs? Instead of cutting out the adverb prettily in the previous sentence, could you hack off or slash the adverb?
When you edit, keep in mind what famous ad man John Caples once stated: A piece of copy is like a pot of broth. The more you boil it down, the stronger the flavor gets.
Step 5: Read your writing aloud. Did you get out of breath?
The best way to find out how your phrasing is or whether you’re being vague or there’s no rhythm to the writing or the sentences are garbled or your pronouns don’t match up or you’re wandering away from your meaning or the writing is just plain dull or the sentence is far too long is to read your writing aloud. Now speak that last sentence aloud and you’ll understand the importance of step 5.
© 2009 Crow Moon Marketing
Rich Silver is a copywriter who specializes in writing direct mail packages and sales letters (print and e-mail). He has worked with some of the top direct marketers in the world.
Lorie Drozdenko is a graphic designer and illustrator, specializing in catalog, direct mail, and web site design.
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