We content writers are a diverse breed. From former print journalists to longtime web junkies, we come to content writing with skills we’ve honed in many different walks of life. But being successful press release writers needn’t come at the cost of our creative passions. With a little discipline and time-management, the challenges of writing client-driven content while working on creative, non-paying writing can actually improve your technique in both fields.
The Importance of Finishing: How Content Writing Can Teach You to Be More Efficient and Get The Writing DONE
Unless you’re fortunate enough to have an agent for your creative work, chances are that the only one putting on the pressure to finish that novel is you. I know, I know; it’s hard enough to get a decent first draft banged out, and now you’ve got to actually finish the thing, too? As you face down your stalled short story or the last few pages of your screenplay, think about the skills you draw on to get a content project completed on deadline:
- Revisit the client specifications. In other words, what was your original goal with this piece? What do the characters need to do in order to bring some satisfaction to the arc you’ve created?
- Read over your work for clarity of message. Focus on getting your story across clearly and push through towards the ending that best suits the work. Good content writing frequently closes with a subtle call-to-action; your creative work is no different. Leave your reader with a strong, unifying image or phrase that leaves them wanting to read more of your work.
- Edit for concision and logical flow. In the words of the content world, is your creative piece too “fluffy”? Do you have unnecessary descriptions and clunky adverbs? If so, follow the golden adage popularized by style masters Strunk and White and echoed by Stephen King: “Omit needless words!”
Write For An Audience, Even If You Don’t Have One Yet
When we write a piece for a client, we’re usually provided with a clear idea of the intended audience. Not so with creative writing projects. However, it’s good to keep an ideal audience in mind as you work on your fiction, screenplays, or poetry. If you’re actively trying to get published in literary journals, consider the editors that will be reading your work. If you’re writing to simply get some ideas on the page, think of someone whose opinions and tastes you value. Try creating a piece of writing that is true to your vision while still being solicitous of that one, ideal reader. When in doubt, follow the words of the inimitable Kurt Vonnegut, “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.