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What’s your process?

ingredientsI’ve had the opportunity over the last few days to discuss my writing process at length – specifically my process of writing for other people. I talked to interviewers, friends, clients and writers-to-be…

One of those times, the conversation was with a brilliant photographer named Randi Baird. I was asking her about her process of documentation through pictures for a presentation she’s giving. I listened to her talk and wrote this from our exchange:

I marinate in the ideas before I photograph for an article; then, I illustrate the author’s words. Working with chefs, the ingredients become the colors, tools, shapes, textures within an image. Documenting a family, the ingredients are the personalities, the ages, the setting, the history. In each case, we all benefit from collaboration, communication, the strengths of our individual visions…and their fusion.

After she read it, she said, “You’re really good!” And I said, “No you are…you said it!!!” True, I wordsmithed it. But it was her energy, personality, intention, words and phrasing that served as the ingredients for writing the piece.

Here’s my process:

1. Meet with my client in person or on the phone for an hour or two and ask them tons of questions. Making it easy, natural, conversational.

2. Listen to them talk about themselves, their business, industry, goals, mission, philosophy.

3. Hear the words and phrasing that they use and the way that they talk – inflections, emphasis, accent, colloquialisms, industry-isms.

4. Marinate in all of this…especially their personality, energy, essence, je ne sais quoi…

5. Take notes, audio or video record – whatever it takes.

6. Find out what information needs to be relayed and to what audience. I like to do this oftentimes in the form of questions. And I ask the client directly for an answer – let them share their expertise.

7. I answer the questions, solve problems, inform and illustrate in the copy I create.

8. When writing as a ghostwriter / marketing writer, it’s like being an actor in a play – I become the character, channel their voice…and deliver.

What’s your process?

Image credit: Chotda

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • My process is fairly similar, although I have one other step right at the beginning — I make a point of review a client’s existing materials (anything from blog posts to business cards). Then, when I sit down with a client, I try to find out what she likes or dislikes about those existing materials.

    If I can, I like to offer my clients a consistent feeling to their marketing materials — or at least a smooth transition between different pieces.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Hi Thursday Bram – this is a great step to add when you’re doing a marketing makeover, etc. Thanks for this contribution!

  • Ron Miller says:

    Even with an article I’m not usually as deliberate as this. I’m sure I have a process, but it just happens. The marination part of it for sure, but sometimes, I see something. It sends my brain on a tangent, I open up a document and start writing and before I know it I have a post completed.

    Other times it comes to me and I think about it. I look for connections to other things I’ve seen. If I’ve got quotes, I figure out how to work them in or let them drive the piece.

    But often, I just write. It just comes spilling out of me. I wish I could be more precise than that, but it’s probably marinating all the time just looking for the right catalyst and when it comes: Boom! I’m writing.

  • Julie Roads says:

    I love that, Ron – and it’s how I write when I write for myself – as opposed to this process for the marketing writing that I do where I write for another person. But – either way – you’ve made me realize that I left the ‘writers za za zu’ out of my list up there…thanks!

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