If you’re reading this, it means that you’ve almost made it through 2020—congrats! As relieving as that is however, it seems that COVID as well will be making the journey into 2021 with us, and As long as the virus keeps spreading, the creative and business world is going to be wearing out every virtual and social distancing method of doing work known to man. Now, I’m not necessarily complaining – there are few things I love more than writing an essay while still in my pajamas at 2pm. But an interesting thing is happening in the world of communications: despite this drastically-modernizing, virtual way of conducting affairs, there is an element to this virtual thing that is quite old-fashioned. While a zoom meeting or a conference call is crucial here and there, most communications are really being done through: you guessed it, writing. Now, of course, we’re not exactly sitting up with our typewriters or our quills and ink, but the significance of eloquently written word truly does prove over and over again to be unmatched by technology- timeless, if you will. Whether it be emails, online marketing, or reworked-for-the-internet ad campaigns, copy is helping creatives to keep up with the great virtual shift. How else can you send a sensitive message, persuade a customer, or pitch an idea without ever actually looking your client in the eye? You paint a visual with your words.
Copy can be something very personal and special to your brand, and the actual essence of a piece is ultimately up to your discretion. However, even the best-intended words can become jumbled in the brain fog of screen fatigue and working from home. As someone who has relied on a computer for composition long before the pandemic, here are some tried and true tips to help you get the most out of your writing.
Read a book, listen to a podcast, even watch TV. Just make sure you are doing some sort of activity involving words every day. It doesn’t matter if you can recite the dictionary front to back—a good writer is always taking in opportunities to observe the different ways that language can be manipulated to create a message. This is how you pick up on what voice, style, and tone you want to emulate in your work.
Get to sleep
Not only will a sleep-deprived brain leave your ideas disjointed and your words fuzzy, you may actually end up doing your best work when you’re asleep. Our brains are hard- wired to do all of the “cleanup” while we sleep, meaning that all of the thoughts, memories and ideas that we produce throughout the day get processed and “filed” at night. Often, in this process, we subconsciously draw the missing connection or the big idea that we were missing while we were awake. Keep a pen and paper by your bedside table – and, of course, making sure you’re getting a full 8 hours can’t hurt!
Know your ideal work environment
Pay attention to what your space feels like when you’re most productive – is it warm, cold, dimly lit or filled with natural light? If you know you work better in the morning, set your alarm, and keep the late nights to a minimum. If you can’t write listening to someone else talk in the background or you can’t possibly focus in a super quiet room, take this into account and turn off the TV or put on some white noise. Knowing yourself and what environments you thrive in are key to getting your thoughts out of your head and onto your paper (or your computer screen).
Snacks are key
A malnourished brain is just as useless as a sleep deprived one. Carbs, healthy fats, and veggies keep you thinking straight and clearly — a hungry brain will leave you jumbled, annoyed, and facing writers-block.
Let’s say that you have an idea or a general feeling you want to express, but just can’t get the words down correctly. Sometimes, getting back to basics can be the best way to get your thoughts back together. Write out a basic template of and intro, body, and conclusion, and then bullet out your two or three main points. As you go, keep notes of any language that might pop into your head, and fill this language in around your main points when the time is right. Not only will this help you get your ideas straight, but your readers will follow your thought process and be able to pick up on your main points with ease as well.
Write and rewrite… and rewrite
Always leave time to muddle over your work for a few days. Chances are, you’ll catch mistakes, rework awkward language, and sometimes, make the decision to reformat altogether. By embracing this part of the creative process, you will be able to present a piece that is truly professional-caliber and personal to the world, without fear of a typo or a missed punctuation.
Less is ALWAYS more
Put yourself in your readers shoes – if it wouldn’t grab your eye, doesn’t hold your attention, or puts you to sleep before you reach your call to action, imagine how your audience will feel. Cut the details and the frills and get straight to business—your readers will see you—and your product/business—as more genuine and straightforward this way, and their eyes will thank you as well.
Keep an eye out for slang or Jargon – who is your audience – role play
Take a tip from English Comp 101: Determine who your target audience is. If you are writing towards professional business people, you might not want to throw a ton of slang into your copy. If your marketing toward a general audience with many different types of people, avoid specialized jargon. Strive to really put yourself in your target’s shoes and think about how they would respond to your work – if it isn’t completely compatible, go back to the drawing board.