It must have been the coffee. But there I was at 5 a.m. looking for a “hook,” a magnetic headline that would draw readers into my client’s blog like bees to honey. The client needed a post that day, and I needed to write and edit what she’d given me quickly. After all, my morning tennis partners were waiting for me.
Eureka! I cried as I found a cleverly compelling hook, saved my post as a draft and ran off to the tennis courts. Only, when I returned to the office two hours later, my client had a left a message, “Uh, …it’s great except for the headline and lead. Call me back.”
I blame it on the coffee. The hook was indeed inspiring, only it had little to do with the message my client was trying to convey. But a little caffeine and dopamine in the brain can fool you into thinking your writing’s great – and never mind it’s missing the point.
I called the client and started to explain myself. I defended my ‘hook.’ But then I took a deep breath, and in a flash, realized she was right. I changed the headline to exactly what the subject was about, eliminated the first two paragraphs and it was fine.
Sometimes saying what you mean is the best route to attracting readers. Other times a good hook works better. But a good hook for the wrong message is a lie to your readers.
The lesson to learn when working with clients is to not get too attached to your words and listen to feedback.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” ~ Harper Lee – Author To Kill A Mockingbird
When you’re collaborating with coworkers or clients on a piece of writing, it’s best to take the ‘no pride of ownership’ route. The goal, after all, is to produce the best writing possible.
Being able to handle a healthy dose of criticism — or welcome it for that matter — is imperative. Not being able to handle this has ruined many would-be writers’ careers before they got a chance to show what they’re made of.
This and other great writing advice comes from the good folks at Hubspot, thanks to Matt Burke’s superb post, 12 Inspirational Writing Tips from History’s Greatest Authors.