Twenty years ago I thought I was a great writer. I graduated with a degree in English and minors in professional communications and business management. I headed out to the work force, confident in my skills and abilities. My resume looked great – solid content, no typos and consistent formatting. I was ready to make my impact and take the world one key stroke at a time.
It didn’t really work out that way. Not exactly. I was a decent writer and I landed a good position in marketing, but I didn’t have the experience needed to make me a great writer. Through the years, I sought out positions and companies to help me get there.
For awhile I worked in the middle of a renowned PR department at a national agency. I found out quickly my writing abilities had a lot of room for improvement. I accepted edits, advice, criticism and lessons. I wrote and rewrote. I edited and then edited some more. I worked with people who really were good writers and by being in the same vicinity and working on projects together, my skills developed.
All of the critiques came with different intentions. Not every co-worker or manager is a great mentor, but ultimately the feedback and interaction did make my writing better than it had been. At the end of the day, the goal is to produce the best work for my client. I wasn’t writing for myself, but rather to represent someone or something.
I have worn off the a, s, d, e, n, and i letters on several keyboards.
I learned that as a writer or communicator or marketer, I needed thick skin. Never is there 100% consensus that a document or a speech or an advertisement is the best thing since the padded kneeler. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and some things just don’t resonate with everyone. I may get 98% of the people to like it, but it’s that 2% who keep me grounded and in pursuit of a higher quality work product. With my writing, if I can make the majority of the audience understand, appreciate and accept the idea, then I’m on the right path. It’s taken a lot of time and patience to get to this point, and I’m not done yet.
One of the challenges in producing great work is there is no guarantee you’ll knock it out of the park every time. Some methods are tried and true, and some equations are consistently winners but, especially in marketing and communications, factors are always changing. Audience needs, perceptions, social impacts, etc., continue to influence and alter end products. As the creator of these materials, it’s up to me to understand, keep aware and continually adapt. Perhaps one day my biggest critic (me) will step back and say, “You are the most wonderful writer I have ever met.” Until then, I put my head down, endure the bumps and bruises, and deliver work that is best for the client, their audience and target messaging.