I am really happy with a new piece I wrote, but think the chapeau goes off to the editor (and web design). A few tweeks were made with her keen eye. I know she would say she couldn’t have done it without the research and writing I did. But still. I like to play on a supportive team.
As I have also worn the editor hat, I can tell you, it can be very frustrating. Sometimes, I would rather just tear it all up and start over. Especially when I just can’t get inside the other writer’s head, or edit and still keep the flavor of their voice. But if budget constraints are tighter than the feeling in my neck, I keep at it. Sometimes, when you are editing, you might prefer to rebuild but can only remodel.
A copy editor is a planner, reviewer, and reviser of content for publication. Someone who has a grasp of punctuation and won’t let a sentence r…u…n…..on….f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Their goal is to improve readability. ¹
Is the Editor a BFF or a Frenemy?
For sure, some editors need and want to put their stamp on all content that passes their desk. And, if it serves the bigger picture (brand, strategy, overall tone, clarity etc.), cool. For me, I think editors are both respectful and the last word. I mean, if you hire the writer for his or her specific tone, you should strive to maintain it, enhance it, or head to HR. Ultimately, I think a good editor is a great silent partner, a good writer, teacher, clarifier and teammate. Someone who collaborates with authors to help their ideas and stories succeed.
Creative writing is pretty loosely described. We associate creative writing with narratives, character development, prose and poetry. And sometimes, flow.
People ask me all the time “what kind of things do you write?” and I usually answer ‘business writing’ seeing as this is an accurate description of my work week. Or I will say something like, “writers, write” or “I’m versatile”. It seems like a cop out. And an apology for not having a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list.
But, when all is said and done, doesn’t creativity have to infuse web content? Does it not require creativity to find a vocabulary, navigate compliance, and get across a prescribed message? I think so. Feel so. I mean, you get these ingredients (search phrases, a product to sell, a certain number of hours, a specific audience). Then you have to actually create a piece that will both inform and sell. And be readable.
Creativity in the Digital Age
We need to expand the bounds of what defines creative writing. I do not mean add alternative facts. What I do mean is that for those of us who write content for websites, we shouldn’t feel that we have the short end of the creative writing deal. In fact, the internet has jettisoned words and sentences so that we no longer have to go out of our way to read. And with the short attention span of today’s reader, if you can get someone to click a link and sign up, buy your product or request information with some creative business content, hat’s off! That is a win.
Don’t Go Stale
Sometimes, a project can feel heavy. The subject is hard to grasp, resources are as scarce as water in the desert, and compliance has you up in a corner. When this happens to me I feel like stale bread. Useful but dry. I think these are moments to take a walk, a photo or doodle. Also, to remember that what got you here was something deeper than your ability to write what you have to.
For today, here is a poem from my own vault. Enjoy
The Breath is Dancing
Embrace the metaphysical moment in time
Breathe deep and deeper still
Lift up, lift up…
Feel the Spirit Soar
The vibrations sing and resonate within
Clear the negativity from the psychic space
The breath arrives as inspiration
Dance with the inner heartbeat of joy
Exhale in long, languid, sensuous surrender
Celebrate the temple of human being
Relax the mind and let it flow
Allow the inner creator to begin
Watch the design of light unfold
Eyes smiling, rejoice, renew
The happiness in the cells is bliss
Magic mood enhancing melody
Rise up, like sunshine overflowing
Move in compassionate calm and soundless action
Sadness is an illusion in the dreamer’s mind
Get into the grove of hope
The warrior protects the meditative trance
Lift up, Lift up… Dance…
by Rana Waxman copyrighted
I feel like this blog should have a soundtrack or at least a drumroll. That certainly sets the reader up with high hopes of fascinating content, perhaps a laugh or two, and maybe even a ‘top ten’ list. But seriously, the other day I got a quizzical look when I handed out my business card – Conscious Strategy? What is that? So today on the blog – and it has been awhile – a few things I have learned from nearly 2 decades of teaching and practicing yoga that have filtered into my work as a freelance writer. In other words, you may actually get a little insight from this blog post and maybe a few healthy lifestyle tips along the way.
The Flow Plan or Conscious Strategy
For one thing, teaching yoga (well) involves some planning and preparation. You don’t just dive into the most challenging asana (posture). You cultivate it by properly warming up with other postures that wake the muscles up and focus your attention and then winding down to come back to equipoise. There is, in other words, a flow plan.
Conscious Strategy: My Yoga of Penmanship
In writer-speak, I use the term ‘conscious strategy’. Perhaps I can attribute systems thinking to years of having to think of things in terms of steps and stages, fluid movement, fluid thought, fluid writing. When I write I prefer the approach of having a beginning, a middle and an end. Where do you want to go with that? Writing, is after all, a sales tool.
Your client should benefit from increased business. Anyway, this is my hope when I get to write the home page of a website. When you think about it, having a destination in sight has a powerful way of focusing us. I learned this from taking class from a newbie once. Teaching a bunch of random stuff is very confusing. Writing randomly is fine for a biography (I guess) but not when you want to be hired for freelance writing.
A Calm Mind is a Creative Mind
Before the reader and the writer part ways, I want to leave you with another gift from yoga, and that is mindfulness. No I don’t meditate with business clients, but I do listen, I do slow down, I do try to be conscious about many decisions. What to do and how to do it. So just to recap, here are a few interconnections I have made. Your own life has its own links in it. I like to use the lessons of my day, it’s like homework that I get a gold star in just for showing up and taking note.
For any project, have an outline, menu, flow plan or conscious strategy
Think about where you hope to end up
Be available to be flexible if **it happens
Creativity can come in when you take a break from over-thinking
Catch yourself from going off on too many tangents
Today was training day as I headed to downtown NYC to speak with a team of writers who are looking to optimize their penmanship to become relevant in google searches. As with many companies and organizations, they have a fairly meaty website with lots of content. Nonetheless, despite the abundance of blog posts, they are not showing up in searches as much as they hope to.
What is Optimized Penmanship?
When we think of penmanship, classic authors like Shakespeare come to mind; those writers whose prose is a work of art, a piece of architecture that has been well thought out and utterly creative at the same time.
“Most entrepreneurs fail at developing ideas for their content because they fail to plan” ~ Joe Pulizzi
“Thank you for coming in, Rana! We all learned a lot”
What I conveyed yesterday in my workshop was that content creation takes some work and planning, but that does not need to over-ride innovation and creativity. An author’s voice, I believe, is what distinguishes him or her from other writers. That being said, when you are generating content for your website, you are engaging in marketing practices. Bringing these two sides together is what I mean by ‘optimized’. Functional key word use, a content strategy, originality and using social media to help disseminate your information, build engagement, monetize or educate. Ah!
Part of the misconception is that if you have a visually stunning website with weekly blogs this will be enough. The outward component is probably the most fun part of the job. Using the architecture analogy, this is like building without a foundation. The less visible aspects of writing are key components of optimizing your resources.
The technical aspect of writing out a content strategy, using meta descriptions, H1, H2 and alt tags on your images, categories for your blogs, may take time, but they set you up for potential success. And, of course, purposeful presence online.
Need help to optimize your content? Click here to contact me
Review are evaluations. Is a review useful to you? Do you write them or ignore them, and have you ever considered learning how to write one that is useful and purposeful?
To review or not to review…that is the question. I am propelled to write about reviews because it seems like they are everywhere. I never paid much attention to them when I lived in Montreal, mostly because I never shopped online. Now living in the U.S. I actually do look at reviews, and as a writer, I examine them with a critical eye. A good review will either give you the motivation you need or save you from making a purchase, whether for goods or services. So what makes a review worthwhile? A few of my thoughts follow.
Often, you can spot a writer’s bias. Words like “hated it” or “loved it” are strong statements that indicate a very personal experience. Yes, a review should reflect personal experience, however, it should also constructive so that the reader understands where you are coming from.
“I loved the restaurant because the waiters were patient and kind although the food was too salty for my taste buds” as opposed to “I loved the restaurant” gives the reader an indication of why you enjoyed your experience, and might be useful to the diner who enjoys good service and salty food.
Put a Title On It
A catchy title will attract people to actually read your review, and trust what you are saying. I was truly on the fence about the above yoga mat I purchased. It has some good features but for the purpose I bought it for, it is not ideal. I expressed my bias, my reasoning, and then left it up to the reader. I wrote it with the intention, no of criticizing, but rather, reporting. Short and sweet is a good way to configure your heading
Reading Between The Lines
Match the review with the product description. If you are buying a yoga mat that is supposed to be sticky, and people are rating it as slippery overall, this is a red flag. This is a good tip for you if you buy clothing online. Read the body types of the the reviewers to see if “too tight” means they should really buy a size up and the product will fit right, or whether in fact, across all sizes, the arm holes run too small.
Write As If The Readers Were Your Community
Being helpful is a way of sharing your insights in a constructive way. If you don’t have anything nice to say, use good manners. “The staff was disgruntled” versus “the waitress was a be-atch” for instance.
Businesses are using reviews to create engagement and harvest feedback from clients. It is a tool that is being used more and more to gain a following, and show that there is social listening. We can choose to participate or not. For me the bottom line is: keep your online presence purposeful!
People now expect to find out everything about everything with the click of a mouse or the touch of a fingertip. This is the age of mass transparency ~ Anthony Bradley / Mark McDonald
Love: Reflections… In honor of my anniversary, I am celebrating love and great marriages. As the site responsible for more Jewish marriages than other dating sites, JDate makes a great muse for my reflections on meeting new potential partners online, the dating experience, and finding a lasting partnership.
Why Online Dating? Why JDate?
The face of dating has changed over the past years. People spend way more time in front of their computers, mobile devices and tablets than ever before. The digital age has made the need to rely on dating sites even stronger.
If you are new to the online dating process, it may feel awkward and hard to navigate. However, let me walk you through how simple it is!
JDate has responded to these changes by updating their website to make the experience easier and more streamlined for users. They also have enhanced their mobile presence, with JDate mobile apps for IOS and Android as well as improved the experience for iPad and Tablet users. For instance, if you have AllAccess, it enables you to message and chat via Instant Messaging with anyone, even non-paying members. So with this great new design, why not get started with putting a fresh face on your dating presence!
Your profile is the key to meeting the “right” person. Someone who is in love with you for your quirks, like drinking coffee with chocolate soymilk in it. Someone who enjoys walking in nature, people watching in Central Park, or is looking for a partner who has laugh lines. This being said, be honest and thorough. If I met someone who lied on their profile, I would say, “red flag” and move on.
JDate has so much room for you to share tidbits about yourself that make you real, like your hobbies, interests and goals. This way, someone can see your profile, and get to know you at a glance. In fact, you might reach out to several potentially interesting profiles with a simple email message that expresses that you like what you saw. Since your inbox is now organized by conversations rather than messages, you are able to see all these communications very easily. Don’t forget, you can upgrade to make your profile stand out even more. Shine and browse on!
JDating and the Art of Matchmaking
Ok, so you signed up, have a great profile. You are still a little tentative to actually choose someone to greet and possibly meet. That is ok. JDate’s new Daily Matches feature is a simple, curated look at your best matches each and every day. They base this on the information that you provide so, don’t be so shy, say hi. Now, if someone says hello, be polite even if you are not interested. And likewise, if someone doesn’t respond to you, move on with a sense that meeting your mate is on the horizon, or, even at one of JDate’s offline events.
Inbox encounters are fine but take things offline so you don’t waste hours typing. First meetings are a chance to see if you have good energy with someone, or enjoy being in their company. If you do, book a date, if not, return to JDate. Hopefully, that person is a profile match away!
*disclaimer: this is a paid piece for OmMedia group and JDate