How many steps does it take from pen to paper to publication?
One? A few? Too many?
I have a confession.
I edit my content…to death. I pre-write, then I write, then I edit, then I edit again, and again, then I pass it off to someone else, then I edit again and then, maybe, it’s done. This whole process happens in normally a day, two tops. Or, at least I used to. Then I got smart.
I heard some great advice in a podcast (The Solopreneur Hour #117) that if you want to be a better public speaker, you should study comedians. While I use this methodology for speaking, it also transfers well to writing. One lesson has really stuck lately — your first draft sucks. Tweak it over time. Then, when you’ve dispersed it enough, throw it out and develop new content. It’s helped me to stop my edit-to-death step that comes after creation — instead, I’m letting it develop and editing it a little at a time as it goes.
While I’m not altogether giving up on editing, I’m taking it more as a long process instead of a hack job. I pre-write a few bullet points. Then, I write, whether it be an article, a blog post, content for a marketing piece, or a presentation, and then I let it sit. I’ll browse through it and tweak obvious errors. I’ll pass it along for feedback, then respond to the feedback. I’ll let it sit a bit longer. I’ll look for ways to enhance the piece, and if I can’t, I stop trying. I’ll throw it out to the public and let them comment. And then, if I feel that the message is good, I leave it alone. I write my blog posts a couple weeks ahead so that I have time enough to fix what needs to be fixed, but I no longer fixate on fixing everything…to death.
I realized that writing is not a sprint to the finish, it’s a marathon.
You have to pace yourself. You have to prepare for the long haul. If you’re spitting out perfect content in the first go, well, you’re amazing. But realistically, your first piece needs work. Sometimes a lot of it. Most of the time, though, it doesn’t need to be red-penned to death. Most of the time, it just needs time.
Do you pick your pieces down to the bare bones, or do you fluff it up?
I try to land somewhere in the middle. Content matters, but how it is delivered is obviously important. No one is going to be interested in a story or presentation that is just bullet point information with no depth; but on the same token, readers and listeners don’t want to be walked through every single thought, emotion, or action that you, the writer or presenter, has. Get to the point in a meaningful way.
How do you determine when your piece is finished?