“This is a REALLY good idea,” is all she could say about her really good idea. After struggling for a bit, she finally wrote it and filed. When we reviewed it together, we both realised it was flaccid.
“You’re not sure of this, are you?” I asked her. And she wasn’t.
The point is: Words know (and show) what we’re feeling.
If you’re writing from a place of hesitation or trying to pass off hogwash as intelligence, your words will spy on you to the reader. If you’re exhausted and just want that 1000-word article out of your way, your words will give you up.
Good writing can only come from a place of confidence and authority (even if you’re writing about your vulnerabilities). But, what do you do, if you’re neither confident nor an authority in what you’ve been asked to write about?
My simple trick: Borrow and channel the authority of experts.
Here’s what I told my colleague to do:
Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Your content isn’t a treatise, it’s just an essay about a small thing within a boundary. Focus on what you know, validate your understanding and stick to it.
Use the information you already have. It’s tempting to research endlessly. Before following the tempting new tangent, check if the info you have is enough to write.
Hypothesise and validate. Sometimes, some ideas take you to the far ends of the world. Don’t follow it. Articulate what you’ve learned, validate it, add it to your essay and move to the next point.
If it still doesn’t feel right, get help. When we go to new clients with more complex tech topics, we request that they assign a subject matter expert to review and validate our work. If clients don’t offer it, speak to a friend, perhaps.
Remember to have fun. If you’re spontaneously combusting from anxiety, your article will show it. Make sure you feel good about your writing. If it doesn’t feel like fun, get out of it.
Written by Anitta Jose with inputs from Ranjani.
I’m Anitta and I have an affinity for all things words: books, writing, conversations, ink pens and the like. A clever pun makes my entire day. I teach literature to college students for a living. I was one of the earliest interns at emdash, Ranjani’s B2B technology content consulting firm, where I learnt all I know about great writing and meticulous organising. I dream of embodying my passion for biryani as a profound book of recipes one day.