How to Write Copy That Kills: Part 3: Plan

(Blogger’s Note: Parts One and Two of this series can be viewed at: http://wp.me/p2bjEC-kf and http://wp.me/p2bjEC-kE.)

Of the six-part series, this is probably the toughest to communicate.

Today’s writer/publisher must live a double life. That of writer, and that of businessperson.

So there’s the art of writing and the science of business.

Because this particular series is focused on writing, we’ll leave the science of business alone today. There are many great bloggers out there today who help you with the science of publishing. A couple of great ones are:

www.catherineryanhoward.com

www.cristianmihai.net

Now the art of writing is a difficult thing to communicate. There’s really no way one artist can tell another how to do his/her work. It’s impossible because:

THERE ARE NO RULES

We’re all inspired/motivated in different ways. We write at different times of the day. Some of us write a thousand words a day on the way to our goal. Others go with the binge style http://wp.me/p2bjEC-6T and write tens of thousands of words at one sitting and may go for weeks without writing another word.

So what advice can we share about how to plan the artistic endeavor of writing killer copy for a book?

I’ll just offer a few short bullet points that work for me.

  • It’s a given that you should read, but in all honesty, I struggle with this, too. I love to read and I love to stay informed about the news of the day, but here’s one thing I noticed recently. On a 10-day trip outside the states during May of this year, I never saw television or a daily newspaper. And during that time I never even realized those things were absent from my life. My mind was free of worldly clutter and I’ve never thought so creatively clear. So for me, there’s a fine balance between staying informed and keeping the junk out for the sake of good writing. But when you do read, read with diversity. It helps most when I read with variety.
  • To the degree that you can, be intentional about your calendar. Every three months or so, schedule a writing retreat for yourself. I do three-day getaways, where I’m isolated from society, and it’s when I do my best work. Schedule your retreats 90 days out and let your family and friends know well in advance that you’ll be out of human contact during that time. Beyond that, be intentional with time that you don’t write. I schedule times that are strictly for fun. No writing on the agenda, but inevitably during those times, I have ideas to bring back to the keyboard.
  • From time to time, use your blog with test-and-measure intention. Every few months I’ll throw out a partial chapter of my book just to see how readers react. One example is here:  http://wp.me/p2bjEC-fO   a post where I recently tested the prologue to my current work. It’s helped guide and re-shape some of the things I do. Now, if a book tease doesn’t necessarily fit with the theme of your blog, consider adding a sister- or cousin-blog that is independent of your primary blog. I maintain three blogs and I’ll write later about the benefits of hosting multiple blogsites.

  • Study metaphors. Many of us write metaphorically and don’t even know it. When my editor pointed out the metaphorical nature of my writing he suggested I study the intentional use of metaphors to strengthen my work. It helped immensely because I now have more self-awareness of my own style. This book really helped me.
  • About “writer’s block.” I’d submit there really is no such thing. Yes, I may go weeks without writing a single word for my book, but the blog is always there to turn to. I do not subscribe to the notion that you must blog every day – quite the contrary. But there is a void in my day if I haven’t written or published something. Use your blog as an outlet. My primary blog serves that purpose. It allows me to write about whatever I choose: news, sports, faith, travel, whatever. The blog helps fill the empty spaces when I’m stuck on bigger things.
  • About outlines. Necessary or not? Just depends on your style. I usually draft broad outlines. If I can see the bigger points I want to make on paper, the details usually take care of themselves.
  • Go easy on yourself. The art of writing is a creative process. (How’s that for stating the obvious?) It takes time. It will not be rushed. Do whatever you can to go easy on yourself for a period. Then when the blood starts pumping, focus like a laser beam.

Most of all just remember:

THERE ARE NO RULES

Next Post: Part 4: Write.

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