Core Values Needed to Be a Good Writer
I want to thank our LBA Intern, Shelby, for inspiring this month’s writing tip. She is taking a course on Ethics and asked to interview me for a class assignment. I always enjoy getting interviewed like this because it often gives me a chance to reflect on my writing career.
And Shelby’s Q&A did not disappoint. Her first question was a doozy: “What values do you think are important to have as a writer?”
I joked that I would have liked a softball question thrown at me first, like “Tell me your name and what you do.” But all joking aside, this was an excellent question that perhaps every aspiring and veteran writer should pose to themselves. Further, this might be a great question to pose to a person applying for a content creation job with your organization.
The following are the first three values that came to mind when I answered Shelby’s question:
1. Commitment to hard work and focus – It’s very rare that I ever think “Oh, this is easy,” when creating content. Whether it’s a sell sheet, brochure, case study, blog, or even a social media post, getting the right words out on paper often feels a lot like squeezing every bit of juice out of an orange that you can. You have to put all your muscle into getting the last drip of liquid out. Then, mixed in with the juice, you’ll have a lot of pulp chunks to meticulously strain out. Similarly, to be a high-quality writer, I believe you need a passion for using all your brain power to coax out every last living and breathing idea you might have on your content topic. Then, you must have the desire to stay focused for hours to clean up all the “junk” in your writing to get to a finished product that reads smoothly. It’s a process, but I love it!
2. Ability to empathize – When I write, it’s on behalf of an LBA client, whose voice and personality I aim to convey. And it’s for the client’s target audience, who needs to see themselves and their needs in the story that’s being told. Thus, the exercise that I go through every time I create content is to not only put myself in the shoes of my client who is trying to have a conversation with the reader, but also the reader who is eager to learn something that is relevant to them. How does a writer even get close to being able to do this if they don’t have the capacity to understand or feel what another person might be going through? Without empathy, then we might as well be writing in a personal journal or just spouting opinion.
3. Willingness to learn – If you can’t take an edit or constructive feedback, then you’re not cut out to be a writer. Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I don’t bristle sometimes when I get an edit back. But whether the feedback is coming from your chief editor, client, proofreader, subject matter expert, or other colleague, you have to “Let it go,” my friends. Full disclosure, I am still working on developing this core value, and continually try to practice the art of letting comments just roll off my shoulders. I believe that to be a true superhero of words, writers like us cannot allow criticism to be our kryptonite. Rather, we need to think of edits and comments as an opportunity to learn from others and to gain valuable experience.
What do you think of these values and are there others you think are needed to be a successful content creator?
Author's Note: This article was originally written in my role as Content Creation Officer for Lisa Baker Associates.