Give great writing its due

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By Leo Valiquette

“I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I did not have time to make it shorter.”

Whether this quote is more appropriately attributed to Mark Twain or Blaise Pascal is beside the point. What matters is that it aptly sums up the delightful, frustrating and fulfilling struggle that is the art of writing.

Whether you are an amateur writer of fiction intent on improving your craft, or a communications professional subject to the scrutiny and criticism of those who may fail to appreciate your clever turns of phrase, one observation of Twain’s still holds true: “A man cannot be comfortable with his own approval.”

As a communications professional accustomed to my approval of what I produce being secondary to that of the client, I often hear comments like, “This is what we want to say, but we’ll leave it to you to polish it up and make it sound good,” or, “I don’t know how we can get all that across in (blank) number of words.”

My job is to create an effective piece of writing intended to serve a specific purpose and achieve a desired result for people who lack the time, or the skill, to do it for themselves. They recognize the value I bring to the table, while at the same time, I appreciate that what I am doing has a direct impact on their image and brand. It is a collaborative effort that must balance creative freedom with the dollars-and-cents demands of lead generation and business development.

But at the heart of this process, regardless of how many other people are involved and providing their input, there remains the individual writer toiling in solitude to string words together in a manner that will engage the reader, convey critical information and spur them to action in as concise a manner as possible. Mastery of this skill requires a natural talent that must be honed through a process of lifelong learning, constant practice and a humble appreciation for the work of a good editor.

Being able to write effectively, on demand, to further someone else’s agenda, is a talent years in the making. It is a professional service that should be given its due and recognized for the value it provides. It should not be regarded as a commodified service. Writers are a dime a dozen, but great writers are in another class entirely. There is a profound difference between derivative cut-and-paste recycling of content and distilling a mass of information from numerous sources into a cohesive and concise form that furthers understanding.

So next time you find yourself in need of a good writer to support your marketing and public relations objectives, remember that you are looking for a partner who will bring unique strengths to the table and work with you to achieve a successful execution. And most importantly, great writers are worth the money, but not everyone who charges a premium rate is a great writer.


One Comment »
  • Marketing vs. Public Relations | ApproStar

    August 25, 2012 11:39 pm

    [...] grammar count, the importance of being able to write a clear and persuasive mission statement, the delightful, frustrating and fulfilling struggle that is the art of writing and guidance on how to improve your writing all to double-underscore and highlight its importance [...]

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