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Just a Book, Part 1 – “Everybody Writes”

Courtney Beasley

Courtney Beasley

Welcome to the 2017 Just a Book blog series!

Over the next month, we’ll take a closer look at Ann Handley’s bestseller, “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content.”  Check in on Mondays to learn new writing tips and get a taste for what our Just a Book Club for marketers is all about.

For our first week, it’s only appropriate that we cover a few of the guiding principles Ann outlines in her book. Whether you want to call them rules, philosophies or something else entirely, here are some of our favorite strategies that help lay the foundation for better content.

Writing Is a Habit, Not an Art

“The key to becoming a better writer is, essentially, to be more a more productive one. Or more simply, the key to being a better writer is to write.” (Page 17)

Writing isn’t a pursuit reserved for English majors, and we can all establish habits to improve the quality and impact of our content. That process starts with simply showing up and making writing routine. Set aside time to write – whenever works best for you. Then stick to that schedule. Worry less about how much you’re writing, and instead focus on how often.

Embrace the Ugly First Draft (TUFD)

“As painful and depressing as it might be to write badly – at least you’re writing, you’re getting the mess out of your head and onto the screen or paper.” (Page 41)

TUFD isn’t an invitation for bad writing, but rather a step we should allow ourselves along the path to that perfect final draft. Getting your thoughts on the page – no matter their quality – is a simple way to overcome writer’s block and build early momentum. Then you can walk away and come back reinvigorated to turn your TUFD into something brilliant.

Show, Don’t Tell

“In a business-to-business scenario, specific details can help put flesh and blood on the dry bones of a so-called solution, making it real and palpable to the people you are trying to reach.” (Page 66)

Remember that B2B decision makers are people, too. At the end of the day, they just want to know how a product or service relates back to them. Conveying this starts with details – content that explains, in human terms, how buying your product adds value and makes life easier. A good barometer for if your content is hitting the mark? Ask yourself – is my content personable?

End on an I-Can’t-Wait-to-Get-Back Note

“It can be useful to leave something undone – to give you a reason, and the courage, to start again the next day.” (Page 84)

We don’t always have control over deadlines. But when time allows, leave your writing in a positive place. Simply stopping writing when things are going well gives you with the springboard to dive in head first the next day – setting up your future writing self for success. Conversely, stopping writing at a point of frustration decreases your energy-and-enthusiasm tank for tomorrow.

To read the full list of strategies, check out Pages 11-87 of “Everybody Writes.” Or watch our video on the first section of Ann’s book. Next week we’ll build upon these principles and explore Ann’s thoughts on grammar and storytelling.

For more tips like these, join Just a Book 2017! And mark your calendars for Oct. 23, which is when Ann will be joining us in office for a meet and greet and Q&A session.