Learning to write for others

In early September I was approached to do some writing for a Murri business – two posts per week for two months. I replied that I’d never done that kind of work, but I’d be happy to give it a go. Last night (Sunday night) I posted off drafts of the next two articles at around 2.30am.

I’m pretty much half-way through the job, and I thought I’d write a quick reflection.

I have a loose-ish deadline of each Monday (as the posts get proofed, edited, and approved, then emailed to the web administrators), so I form the ideas during the week, often writing on the weekend and sending off on Sunday night/Monday. The client is Murri, and we personally lead similar lives. I’m also free to write about issues that Mob experience, and face. ┬áSome of the content I write for the client, could easily be written here and wouldn’t look out of place.

I think writing for this client isn’t as hard as it could be, but bloody hell it’s hard work.

Reflection so far:

  1. The posts are almost ALWAYS on my mind. Every part of my life and reading goes to forming possible ideas. The client has given me a list of keywords and possible topic ideas, but producing two posts per week means that I’m looking for a variety of concepts – or new ways to say something similar. So if you see me during the week and I’m kinda looking a bit vague, it’s because I have a deadline.
  2. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, reading, clicking, browsing. On the outside, it looks like I’m being completely unproductive, but all of that information I consume, goes into forming posts for the client or even for my own websites. I’ve also decided to head to offline – Murri novels as well as newspapers and magazines, to get inspiration.
  3. The other thing I’ve found is that while I tend to think about the post for about five to seven days, playing with possible “hooks” or approaches to the post, the actual execution of the piece is around an hour or so, sometimes shorter. I’ve learned to trust that it will come. At midnight last night I still didn’t have it, but by 2.30am, I’d written the two posts and sent them off. I suspect I get a little high out of not knowing if I’m going to find the hook for a post in time. Clearly I love living life on the edge.

One thing I do have to get better at is keeping notes. I’m so bad. I have an Evernote account, and it’s a complete mess right now. There’s no order or structure to it. I’d like to get to the point where I can create a file of quotes or passages that either inspire or can be used down the track.

It’s an interesting experience – writing for others. I’ve done it only a few times (Brisbane City Council, State Library of Qld), and only as one offs. I also feel like I’m not as effective as I could be as a writer because I have had no training in writing. My only training is my Bachelor of Commerce and my incomplete Masters degree. It’s all just trial and error – writing emails, and posts. I have given thought to doing a Grad Dip in Communications or something similar, as a professional development activity. Basically, I have no idea if I’m any good, but people keep giving me work, so perhaps I’m not as bad as I’m programmed to think I am (yes, that old self-esteem bug again!). I’m a thousand miles from even thinking about calling myself a writer.

I do wonder if it could become a full-time gig. I’d be concerned that I just wouldn’t be able to pump out enough interesting, coherent, or original words each day. More to ponder.

Anyway …. onward, upward, and over ….

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