I’ve always found the goal of meeting a word count to be a bit silly.
Some messages can be clearly communicated in 200 words and others need 2,000 words.
But if you use 2,000 words when 200 words would perfectly suffice, your writing will likely feel excessive or even self-indulgent.
That’s why I consider the ability to self-edit one of the most valuable skills a writer can develop.
However, writers have to gain momentum to fuel their careers. They need to publish content regularly in order to make the best choices for their work going forward.
So, how do we marry these two ideas — precise communication and writing practice?
I call it the balance of The Prolific and The Potent.
5 steps to prolific and potent writing
The five-step process is ridiculously simple:
- Write a lot.
- Edit your text into a cohesive presentation (and save the parts you cut out).
- Look for ways to improve.
While all the steps are easier said than done, #4 is a particular challenge because if you’re too self-critical you’ll get stuck.
At the same time, if you never find aspects to improve, you’re probably not that interested in growing.
Here’s a key lesson I’ve learned
“Improving” should be how you can serve your audience better, not necessarily how you can make yourself look better.
For example, I’m slightly embarrassed by some older pieces of content I’ve produced.
- Are there technical things wrong with them?
- Are there actual mistakes?
Not really. They just don’t resonate with me now.
To overcome that, I have to remember that we’re all in different places in our journeys. Something I wrote three years ago could be brand-new and relevant to someone who discovers it today … even though I’ve evolved from that point.
Because ultimately, even though I may not like one of my older pieces of content, it could be the perfect solution for someone who is currently in the stage I was in when I wrote it.
So instead of wasting time being embarrassed, I look for any aspects I can improve to enhance the audience experience.
“High quality” is a measure of whether or not your contribution helps your audience in ways they can’t find anywhere else.
You have to demonstrate those benefits both within your content and the ways you promote it.
How writers work and evolve
I wanted to talk about how writers work and evolve today because I recently recorded a two-part series on The Writer Files with host Kelton Reid.
A few highlights from each episode are below …
How Copyblogger’s Editor-in-Chief Stefanie Flaxman Writes: Part One
- My early exposure to journalism and unique path to a career in writing and editing
- Why great things happen when you make yourself vulnerable
- How to incorporate balance and philosophy into your content mindset
How Copyblogger’s Editor-in-Chief Stefanie Flaxman Writes: Part Two
- Kelton’s very first day as a copywriter at Copyblogger
- Why so much of the writing process doesn’t involve actual writing
- One great hack to jumpstart your own writing
My introduction to Kelton’s writing was here on Copyblogger six years ago. He wrote for the site, and I was a regular reader — we didn’t know each other.
It’s an honor that he’s now a friend and colleague, so check out the show if you’d like to hear a casual, fun conversation about creativity and how I became Copyblogger’s editor. 🙂