…on writing: tip #021

Doing a copyedit on some content I’d written for my course, I found myself adding (mentally) some extra content to the copy. Could have been the cappuccino-charged condition I was in, but the diversion was hilarious. Ok…the diversion seemed hilarious at the time. But then it got me thinking. 

I probably don’t have to tell you that the extra content had pretty much zero value-add for my course and all associated aims, and the distraction-aspect wasn’t helping either – I couldn’t help laughing at each stray thought that occurred to me and I had to keep interrupting what I was doing to stop and enjoy it all. (And trying not to laugh when it’s just you and your computer in a pub is a tough gig.) (Did I say pub? I meant café.) It started to get harder and harder to collect my thoughts and get back in the game.

Then it hit me. This is what writing is all about. Having fun. Writing for the love of getting words out there. Experimenting with ideas and inspiration – these can come from anywhere, and be anything – even a dull sorry, inspiring work memorandum can be brought to life. And – in the middle of an editing exercise – I remembered that getting all these words down could surely only help with the writing and editing process. And – as hard as I’ve been working, a Writing Diversion would be fun. Why not write the extra content, and then later, when a more sensible (?) or occupation-appropriate (!) mood strikes me, I can edit my document to something that will only half-raise the eyebrows of my supervisor, manager, or whoever makes the decisions that I am wanting to be made? I looked around the ‘café’ to make sure everyone was watching, and assumed my I-look-terribly-and-insufferably-sober-can’t-you-see-I’m-working-on-something-serious-here face, and I set about writing in the extra content.

First, let me put you in the picture. My scope for this assignment was to pretend myself into the role of Marketing Coordinator for XYZ Company, who specialises in supporting small business, and then research and write a proposal for developing a seminar targeting said small businesses, on how to create and maintain a web presence. My extra content is here in green.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (and – I spent hours trawling through the numbers, so pay attention) for the 2013-2014 financial year show that the number of small businesses in XYZ Company’s target group that implement and benefit from a web presence is significantly low (OMG you will never buh-leeeeve how low).

Internet income increased from $246 billion in the 2012-2013 financial year to $267 billion (I KNOW! Crazy, right??) in the 2013-2014 period, indicating that attracting and transacting with customers using the internet (what? there are businesses who don’t do this?) can lead to financial gain (thank you, Sherlock). Of the estimated 464 000 operators in our target category (goodholygrief, are there really that many…I mean…of course I know how many operators there are in our target category), approximately 34% derive half or more of their overall income through the sale of goods and services online – yet only 37% of these have an established web presence. (I should switch those two sentences around. Wait – OMG, look at those stats!! I might wear out the exclamation point key on my keyboard!!! Except it’s not in keeping with the punctuation conventions!!!! But these numbers!!!!! For the love of the internet, do I need to write more? Let’s get your signatures on this seminar series!!!!!!)

Of course, the real assignment does continue on, and even includes supporting information that the managers would find relevant. It even borders on being factually accurate and meticulously edited. But what I liked most about this caffeine-inspired exercise is that by ‘freeing’ (!) my natural impulses, it ended up helping to unlock the flow of words, and I ended up with a lot of sometimes-inspired content to work with. I got results. For me it was the trick of getting out all the things I knew I couldn’t say, which strangely helped me see all the things I could say, and how best to say them. I don’t know about you, but sometimes find  proposal-writing (or is it the management audience?) (No, never) hard to come at. Writing that extra content down somewhere first helps me clear the decks and begin.

Ok, it all seemed hilarious at the time…have fun with your writing.

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