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Everybody Writes, So Learn From the Pros: Part 1

Everybody writes -- especially the Walker Sands content team. That’s why we’ve spent the last few weeks delving into Ann Handley’s “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content.”

Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs, is a veteran writer and editor. She has a lot to say about how to consistently create quality content, even when the muses don’t visit.

Here are just a few of the stand-out tips that have resonated with the content team so far:

  • Don’t be afraid of The Ugly First Draft (TUFD). Staring at a blank screen before starting a project can be scary, especially when you’re a bit of a perfectionist. But striving for perfect on the first round is fruitless. Instead, flesh out your ideas and edit later. This will save time and hopefully prevent you from agonizing over the dreaded blank page.
  • Put the important stuff first. When you write as much as we do, it’s inevitable to develop certain crutches and habits that might not always serve the reader. Handley points out a common mistake: putting filler phrases like “according to,” “there is a” and “it is,” at the beginning of sentences gets in the the way of the main thought. Handley advises: “You can tack them onto the end, or insert them somewhere in the middle – if you must use them at all.”
  • Avoid writing by committee. In an agency setting where everyone is invested in creating the best content for clients, it’s tempting to get as many eyes on a piece as possible. This isn’t always efficient or effective, and can stretch out the writing process unnecessarily. Handley suggests getting sign-offs on outlines before actually writing content, and limiting the number of editing rounds to make the most of writer and client time.

From drafting pitches to writing social copy to outlining a data study, writing is at the core of what we do at Walker Sands. We’re learning a lot from “Everybody Writes.” It stands out among other books about writing as not only helpful, but hilarious. A win-win!