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(And how you can shatter them for good.)

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]It’s so tempting to elaborate on the usual signs of terror the prospect of writing inspires: the blinking cursor, the blank page, the mini-mountains of crumpled paper that fly into nearby waste cans.

Yet, sadly, many would-be writers never even make it to these proverbial moments: Fear keeps them from sitting down to face the white screen or the pristine page.

So, what’s the deal? Why are marketers so afraid to write?

“In our world, many hold a notion that the ability to write, or write well, is a gift bestowed on a chosen few … That leaves us thinking there are two kinds of people: the writing haves and the hapless, for whom writing is a hopeless struggle,” says Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs and author of “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide To Creating Ridiculously Good Content.”[/vc_column_text][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”30″][image_with_animation image_url=”2352″ animation=”Fade In” img_link_target=”_self”][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”30″][vc_column_text]If you were at all in doubt about Handley’s explanation, we offer the following article, entitled “My Fellow Marketers: We Suck At Copywriting,” as exhibit B.

Read it, but don’t weep. Because here’s the thing:

You’re probably a good writer. Sure, you may not have received a Master’s Degree in Journalism or a B.A. in English. You may not know a quasi-possessive from a nonessential clause. If you didn’t learn this lesson from Ratatouille, take note: You can be trained to achieve greatness in almost anything if you’re willing to practice.

“Anybody can get better at writing, which is why I titled the book, ‘Everybody Writes,’” says Handley. “I think we’re all capable of ridiculously good content. Maybe we aren’t capable of ridiculously awesome content, but there’s a level we can all get to, if we put a little bit of elbow grease and awareness into the process.”

In a recent interview, Handley was generous enough to shatter some common anxiety-inducing myths surrounding the writing process and offer some great advice on how marketers can become dauntless scribes:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”30″][image_with_animation image_url=”2341″ animation=”Fade In” img_link_target=”_self”][vc_column_text]

Myth 1: Now that everyone is obsessed with video and photos, no one reads anymore.

Fact: Words, combined with visuals, strengthen your message.

It’s tempting to think words have lost their power to the tyranny of the arresting visual. Not so, says Handley. “Actually, I think the marriage of the two makes for an even stronger product. The power of visual marketing comes through when you can pair it with a short story. Your message can be that much more powerful.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”30″][image_with_animation image_url=”2342″ animation=”Fade In” img_link_target=”_self”][vc_column_text]

Myth 2: Writing requires inspiration.

Fact: Writing requires routine.

Many marketers treat writing deadlines like the neighbor that keeps coming over and everyone wishes he would just go away. We know the deadline will show up again soon, and we dread it. We go into panic mode (and writing paralysis) when it draws near. Don’t hide in the editorial apartment of your mind. If you dread a deadline, plan for it.

“I think the best writers really do think of writing not as a task, but as a habit,” says Handley. It’s nothing [good writers are] born with, necessarily. They’ve worked at it. It’s only going to make you a stronger writer if you do it every day.”

Turn-of-the-century journalist Mary Heaton Vorse put it this way: “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

Roald Dahl followed the same quirky writing routine every day.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”30″][image_with_animation image_url=”2343″ animation=”Fade In” img_link_target=”_self”][vc_column_text]

Myth 3: The blank page is paralyzing.

Fact: Lack of confidence is holding you back, not the cursor.

You may be reluctant to write because you’re afraid what you put out there won’t be any good. Guess what? Much of it won’t be. Even Ernest Hemingway once stated, “The first draft of anything is sh$t.”

But that’s no reason not to start. “The biggest thing that helps me [get into writing] is to really let go that fear of the blank page,” says Handley.

When you resolve to get started, Handley recommends organizing your ideas first. “I start almost everything I write, whether it’s a book or a blog post, with something that looks like a shopping list. I’ve talked to a number of marketers and business folks who don’t start with a pen and paper. They will actually dictate that ‘ugly first draft’ as I call it, straight into their iphones or by using some sort of thing like Dragon; actually speaking to get the words out.”

Outlining your ideas helps you approach your first draft with more confidence simply because you’re armed with a plan, a road map, a way to get from idea A to idea B. And remember to make like Ernest and achieve peace with your crummy first try. You can always revise. Nabokov did. Check out his extremely messy first draft of Invitation to a Beheading. Feel better? We thought so.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_animation image_url=”2344″ animation=”Fade In” img_link_target=”_self”][vc_column_text]

Myth 4: Tools are for [lazy, untalented, non-creative … enter self-deprecating language here] writers.

Fact: Tools are for smart writers.

“It’s helpful to work with a real-life editor,” says Handley. “An editor adds a lot to the process.” But say you don’t have a Diana Vreeland-type stashed in your back pocket. What then?

Handley recommends using online tools like Grammarly, the Hemingway App and Smart Edit to refine your copy. “I also like Visual Thesaurus,” she says. “It’s like a mash-up of a thesaurus and a dictionary. It creates these visual word maps that can be really helpful in suggesting story ideas.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_animation image_url=”2345″ animation=”Fade In” img_link_target=”_self”][vc_column_text]

Myth 5: You are not a writer.

Fact: You are a writer.

Here’s a secret: Even writers have a hard time self-identifying as writers. They think, ‘I’m not a writer: Tolstoy was. Fitzgerald was. Mark Twain was.’

Yet, if we held ourselves to these high standards in every area of life, (i.e. ‘I’m not a great cook: James Beard was. I can’t train my dog: I’m no Cesar Millan. I’m no authority on home design, that’s best left up to the folks at HGTV.’) we’d all be subsisting on nothing but frozen pizza and living in boring, builder-beige houses with ill-behaved K-9s. We’re not that way. In fact we’re way better than that. So own it: You’re a hobbyist. You’re a coffee lover. You’re a movie buff. You’re a musician. You’re a writer. Now get out there and make amazing words.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]


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