Confident writing doesn’t mean waiting for perfection
Have you ever stared at a word for so long it begins to look like its spelt wrong even though it’s not? That was me over the weekend.
I spent an hour obsessing over one sentence on my website. An hour. Of my time that I’m never getting back. And in the end I decided the sentence was fine as it was.
Wasted hour maybe, but I did get a lightbulb-moment.
I concluded that I suffer perfection-it-is. The waiting for things to be perfect before taking the next step.
Never has the phrase ‘wait for perfection before doing anything and you’ll never get anything done’ been so apt for anyone.
With this in mind, I’m here to tell you that perfect needs to be banished from your vocabulary.
Why perfect is dangerous
Perfectionism a dangerous affliction that plays with your sanity. It not only sows the seeds of doubt, but waters them and gives them sunlight making them grow stronger.
So many business owners have confided in me about how un-confident they are at writing. They’d rather do anything else.
You are perfect as you are
Let me rephrase… you are good enough as you are. Being told we’re perfect doesn’t help at all particularly if you want to be more confident writing.
I’ve been reading about communication over the summer and one of the messages that’s been ringing loud and clear in my mind is:
Your message (or words) doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be good enough
By the end of this post you’ll know how to write a good enough message without slaving for hours, and how to check its good enough.
You have a clear and authentic message
As a business owner you want things to be just right, not ho-hum or OK. That’s understandable, I mean it’s your business and livelihood we’re talking about.
Buuuut, and this is a biggie –
Know what you want to say and just say it.
As long as your message is clear and authentic in the first place, it’s good enough.
What does this mean in practice?
Ensure your message includes your one key point. Make it straightforward and concise. Don’t waffle on… and on… and on… Use 3 words instead of 6. Remove jargon or complicated words. This gives your message clarity.
This means avoiding clever puns or words you wouldn’t use yourself.
You need to sound like you. But also like your customer. So write conversationally as you’d speak to a colleague or friend. Blend in some of the words or statements your ideal customer uses and you have a powerfully authentic message.
Clear and authentic equals a targeted yet powerful statement.
It avoids being cheesy or overly clever and sounds like you’re talking directly to your customer as you would in person. This may not be perfect in your eyes but a clear and authentic message is good enough.
You’ll need to edit your message, it won’t come out fully formed the first time you try to get it onto paper. But that’s ok. Editing is good. This doesn’t mean you’re trying to make it perfect. Even confident writers need a few attempts at getting the words out. As long as you’re getting your point across concisely, your words are spelled correctly and you sound like you talk, that’s fine.
- Know the key point you want to convey
- Just write. Doesn’t matter what it looks like right now that’s what editing is for
- Write your message conversationally as if you were talking to a friend
- Use words that sound like you
- Weave in some of the words your customers use
- Avoid clever puns, complicated words or overused (cheesy) phrases
- Trim your words. Banish words such as really, very, actually. They don’t add anything
- Do a spell check
My anti-perfection pledge to get my confident writing back
I’m banishing perfection right now. And I’m even going so far as telling visitors to my website I don’t offer perfection. If they want perfect, they’ll have to try elsewhere. A bit of a risk but I want people to understand that perfect is never going to happen and I want to be clear about that upfront.
What they will get is damn good words targeted to their ideal customer in a clear and authentic way.
I’m happy with that.
Stop worrying and get on with your day
Still struggling with the perfection demon when writing?
Step away from the page (or screen).
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your message make sense?
- Does it give one key message?
- If you read it aloud does it sound like you talk?
Yes? Then your message is good enough.
As your business evolves, so will your message, but if it’s doing the right job right now, then you know it’s good.
Do you suffer perfection-it-is? Does it make for less confident writing? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to give you more tips to help you squish that perfection demon.