It used to really fry my first boss, an award-winning copywriter, to hear some bozo say “how fun it must be to just sit around and write all day.” Yes, there were people who actually said this. Anyone who’s ever written for a living can relate to the irritation. Good writing, or creating good content, or whatever you want to call it, is damned hard work. There’s just no other way to put it. Especially for those who take the craft seriously and seek to commit acts of literature even when it is “just website content”. The quotations are used advisedly because website content that compels busy, distracted people to take the action you want them to take involves thoughtful insights expressed in appealing ways. No easy task. Ask the people whose words got you to click on those call-to-action buttons once you got there.
Words and images that prompt the desired action is the essence of marketing: you must pinpoint your target market, understand the needs of the right buyer and package a deliverable product or service at the right time. All of this implies deep knowledge of your buyer, customer or user. It’s the offshoot of clear thinking.
Muddy writing is the product of muddy thinking. You have only to read the techno-speak and gobbledygook blathered and written, often in emails, in the typical corporate office today, even by those who should know better, in companies of all shapes and sizes: the acronyms, the language inflation and the use of nouns as verbs and verbs as nouns, as in, “We have to watch our spend this quarter”. (Presumably, you’re also paying attention to expenses.) Or, “We need to effort this, immediately”. (Whatever “this” may be, let’s hope we do it, too.) And don’t even get me started on sports-speak. When I hear people who don’t know a left hook from a right cross talk about “punching above our weight” I want to punch them. Or when they allude to the “two-minute play” when they probably mean “two-minute offense”.
Full disclosure: If I’d had more time, I’d have written a shorter post.
When he’s not ranting on this site, you can read Stan DeVaughn and his comrade-in-communications, Peter Davé, on The Write Stuff, the blog of Write Angle, Silicon Valley’s premiere writing and content-creation agency for the I.T. industry.