If there’s one thing I do a lot, it’s write. I write press releases, blogs, website content, marketing material for brochures, advertorials, the list goes on. Each has its own style and often, as in the case of blogs for my clients, its own voice.
Sometimes the writing comes easily, the research goes well, my thoughts flow, and my fingers fly on the keyboard. Before I know it, the first draft is done. On other occasions it can be like giving birth – slow and painful – but when it’s done I feel like a proud parent.
Regardless of what I am writing, I always try to give my writing time to breathe. Depending on my deadlines, this can be for a few minutes, a few hours, or even for a day or two. Novelists tell tales of letting their writing sit for weeks. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury.
During the course of writing I might be interrupted by a phone call from a frantic client, an e-mail, a text message from one of my kids, or a dog that just can’t wait any longer to go out. Ah, the pleasures of working from home!
While it can be a bad thing, because such interruptions can cut into the flow of my writing, it also can serve as a stopping point for me to review what I wrote and perhaps revise my work. (A little insight here, I often pause after writing five or six paragraphs and review what I wrote, making revisions along the way).
Many writers – especially journalists – don’t have the time to let their writing breathe. They are up against tight deadlines and demands. For them, they might only get one swing at the ball and then their story is off to an editor and either sent back to them for more info, a revision, or if they are lucky, quickly posted to a website or printed in a newspaper.
But for content creators like myself, allowing time for our work to simmer and steep can be a good thing. Sometimes, when I am standing outside waiting for the dog to finish up his or her business, my thoughts drift and new inspirations come through. When I sit back down at the keyboard, I am able to see my writing with fresh eyes and new ideas.
Giving your writing breathing room also may keep you from ever allowing what you wrote to see the light of day. Just last week I thought I had a great idea for a blog. I started writing it up and it went nowhere. The more I worked on it, the dumber it sounded. It’s been sitting on my desktop ever since. I have not discarded it completely because it may come back to life in another form one day.
For me, reading what I write aloud also helps the creative process. Not only will you catch grammatical and punctuation errors, but you also can get a sense of how long a sentence takes to read. If you start to turn blue while reading a sentence, it’s time to restructure.
Having a second, or even third pair of eyes, also is extremely helpful. There have been times when I have read and re-read something I wrote, only to find an error after I have submitted or posted it. The mind has a way of sometimes putting words in that aren’t there, because you expect them to be. Even if your second pair of eyes isn’t a trained editor, having someone else read what you wrote will give you a needed perspective that only another person can give.
At the end of the day, it’s all about how much time you have available, but like a good wine, allowing your writing to breathe, by most accounts, should make it better.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. In addition to public relations, she provides web content writing, press releases, social media, photography and videography. She has two daughters, three golden retrievers and two cats, but just one guinea pig who is happy not to have to share his cage or his daily stash of veggies with anyone.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.