Tag: writer

Bird by bird

May 4th, 2017   •   no comments   
Bird by bird

6 ways to write like a writer

Few people are writers but everyone has to write, even if it’s only an email to accompany their CV. Whether you are writing a social media post, a project report or a cover letter to a prospective employer, you need to get your message across in a way that is clear, comprehensible and letter-perfect.

I write for a living, which means I can’t afford to get it wrong. My clients come to me for copywriting and editorial support on documents that need drafting or ‘doctoring’ after rounds of revisions. Also, I write as a hobby. In addition to my corporate communications blog, I blog about life in France, am currently completing a memoir and starting work on a novel. When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading.

One of the most treasured tomes on my bookshelf is ‘Bird by Bird’ by writer and humorist Anne Lamott. Offering ‘some instructions on writing and life’, it wraps up nuggets of wisdom in simple, down-to-earth stories from the author’s own life. The title was inspired by one such tale about Lamott’s little brother, and how he became immobilized by the enormity of the task at hand: completing a class report on birds that he’d had three months to write and was due the next day. Her father sat him down and gave his son the best advice any writer could ask for: ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

Breaking any big job into smaller, more manageable pieces can help move it forward. The important thing is to get it out of the starting blocks. Because let’s face it: even for those of us who do it for a living, writing can sometimes feel like pulling teeth.

Here are 6 tried-and-true tips to get that job written quickly and professionally. read more

Do you dare to ask?

March 11th, 2016   •   no comments   
Do you dare to ask?

What’s more important: knowing all the answers or asking the right questions?

We live in a world where the value of questions is often underrated. As school children we are rewarded for knowing the right answers, not for asking the right questions. At a job interview, most people will worry about saying all the right things in response to what the interviewer asks. How many will dare to ask questions of their own?

And yet, the quality of the questions you ask, along with the degree of curiosity and interest you show, can say more about you than your best answer.

Don’t be misled by the old saying – “There are no stupid questions, only stupid people.” Like most pieces of popular wisdom, it is both true and false. Stupid questions are the ones you ask before reading the background material or without thinking first. And yes, it happens to the best of us.

We writers have to ask questions – it’s part of the job. We bubble with curiosity in meetings and during interviews, by email and whenever we talk to you. Clients, experts, colleagues – you are a vital source of the information we need to write that story, structure that presentation or focus the customer’s message.

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5 reasons to hire a writer

November 25th, 2015   •   no comments   
5 reasons to hire a writer

Let’s talk about that project that’s been sitting on your to-do list. It could be updating the company website, planning a content marketing campaign or writing a thank-you letter to the team. You could always write the copy yourself. You know the brief and besides, it’s not like writing is rocket science or even graphic design – both of which would obviously require a professional. That kind of thinking is why so many communications arrive late, lack focus or fail to provide an intelligible message.

Here are 5 reasons why you should consider hiring a professional writer for your next communications project.

  1. We put our thinking caps on
    You may have noticed that writers ask an annoying number of questions. Who is your audience? What is the news? Why are you communicating about it? Without clear answers to those questions, your words are just a bunch of characters strung together to form sentences. Writers put their thinking caps on before they start to write. They look at your project from an unbiased angle and ask all the right questions to make it shine.
  2. Because spellcheck
    No tool can replace a good pair of eyes and a sharp red pencil. Lest you think we writers are highfalutin intellectual types, let’s acknowledge the importance of editing and proofreading. This involves more than dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s – a good writer edits not just spelling and grammar but context. This will prevent you from making fatal communications errors like these.
  3. Return on investment
    No matter what the platform, every penny you invest in having a writer hone and polish your message pays big dividends. Perfectly written, engaging copy reflects well on you and your brand. And here’s a deep, dark secret: the services of a professional writer will not cost as much as you expect. In the grand scheme of things, writing is cheap. Far less than a rocket scientist.
  4. No one needs to know
    The reason they call it ‘ghost writing’ is that most professional writers work behind the scenes. Basically, we do the work and you take all the credit. PR writers like myself ghost for fellow communicators and top management, among others. We are a go-to resource when time and budgets and tight. And there is one very good reason for this…
  5. You’re better at something else
    Let’s face it: we’re all good at something. A few people are fortunate enough to be good at more than one thing. I know other communicators who are inspirational speech-writers and great presenters but who hate having to sit down before a blank page. Some of them are my clients. They come to me because my strength is the written word. Yours may be decoding data, managing a global team or selling ice cream to Eskimos. Whatever you do well or bring value to should be what you spend your time on.

I’ve got my thinking cap on now.

Flying solo

October 2nd, 2013   •   2 comments   
Flying solo

It seems fitting to begin with a story. I’m a writer who believes in leaving no story untold, so here’s a recent chapter of my own: how I came to start up an independent communication consultancy.

In April 2012, the multinational group I was working for announced its decision to close divisional headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. This was not entirely unexpected – we’d experienced some setbacks in the pipeline and, like many pharmaceutical companies, needed to streamline operations.

Change is never easy. The announcement that over 1,000 jobs would leave the beautiful glass tower we occupied in Geneva shattered quite a few illusions. News on that scale leaves no one unmoved. Being one for silver linings, however, I began almost immediately to think about my own plan B.

Attending a social media workshop at the university a few days later, I found myself uttering the words that had begun to crystallize in my mind:  “I currently work for a major biopharmaceutical company but am preparing to launch a business as a freelance copywriter and communication consultant.”

At the break, one of the other participants came up to me and commented: “So, you’re leaving the corporate world?”

“Leaving the corporate world.” That gave me pause. It sounded so harsh and final, as if I were permanently exiling myself from a known world. “Well, yes, although I still hope to stay in touch with it through my future clients,” I smiled. But her question was well-timed in that it made me ask myself a few tough questions. read more