Clients and juniors always ask me about my writing process. My writing process is three separate stages, the story stage, the copy clean upstage, and the finesse stage.
Sitting down to fully work out the different stages of how I beat out a piece has helped me in my efforts of ever-improving my craft. I highly recommend any writer reading this take the time to determine your writing process. It’s immensely eye-opening for your art and how you can keep improving.
Let me first say the beginning of my process is actually not writing at all. It’s determining a timeline for the piece to let my clients know what to expect and for me to know when I need to have each draft out.
So if this is due Friday and it’s Tuesday I want to space it out for full ideation. I’m not just going to sit down and bang it all out in one day then send it out. That’s basic bish copy creation, which is okay for say a blog or social media post but NOT okay for major branding copy or press releases. You can learn more about this in my latest episode of B’s Creative Asylum Podcast on copywriting.
Next, before I begin outline/story build I pull my research. I adore research so I can easily get off track down a rabbit hole of knowledge that has NOTHING to do with what I actually need to be doing. Because of this, I give myself a time limit and a MUST HAVE list in terms of story. Like I must have 5 professional references and 3 quotes for this piece.
As a creative, it is imperative you protect your creative time and energy even when you’re not writing specifically. I am a perfectionist, and early in my career, I wasted so much time by skipping the research and story build trying to just write. I run my own business now so all of my time needs to always have a serious value. This is actually what pushed me into organizing my process so I can produce more work for B Lifted.
Pulling my research helps me formulate the base of the story flow which for me is usually all major sections with working headlines.
Stage 1: Working Draft 1 – The Story
This is my rough outline of the actual story, no wow factor I just lay out all of the facts I want to share, and then I ask myself if I am missing information. Can I dive deeper? I consider this a fresh-out-of-college to high school B grade piece. I would never show a client this unless I am having trouble building the story due to a lack of information which does happen sometimes when writing branding like about pages. I have to trust the editor to know me enough to come in without judgment to help me finalize the story flow though.
According to the famous publisher publisher Bumble Magazine a honey bee flies around from each flower looking for flowers with good pollen then the bee fly back to the hive with the pollen to make honey.
Rough, I know. But that’s why I keep working on it.
Stage 2: Working Draft #2 – The Copy Clean Up
I have the story down and now I can look at my beloved words. This is where I tightened the copy in terms of flow and grammar, still nothing super sexy. Tightening copy means I remove duplicate words and phrases, and I cut any extra words not needed. I keep it to the point, not pretty or artsy but clean. This is basically a junior to mid-level copywriters’ work. If I’m being rushed by a deadline sometimes this is the draft that gets sent. It’s rare but I always let the client know. “If you need this right now it’s not my best work if you’re comfortable with that I’m fine.” Sometimes boundaries are important with entrepreneurs and marketing managers.
According to Bumble Magazine, a bee flies from flower to flower looking for good pollen then goes to the hive to make honey.
Better but not the quality I prefer and want for my work.
Stage 3: Working Draft #3 – The Finesse
So we have a story AND we don’t have clutter. This is where I get to do my magic. This magic comes from years of writing and wordplay. I hone the voice into whichever brand I’m working for and I upgrade basic wording to what I call fancy words. The result is this wow factor my clients love and I love as the signature of my work. This wow factor comes from years of experience AND time in terms of giving it a few days to work on the piece. The wow factor rarely falls out the same day of the assignment and almost never works when someone treats me like a vending machine. I’ve had bosses and clients come to me and say “I need a great headline for X, Y, Z.” Then, they stood in front of me looking at me like it was just going to drop out of my mouth in some wizardry. I would always say three or four awful things and one semi-good thing before they give me space for my magic. When a copy is rushed I have a hard time reaching the polish and shine I prefer.
According to Bumble Magazine, a busy little bee buzzes from delicate flower to flower in search of the best quality pollen to make the sweetest honey.
Oh hey, that sounds like your brand! Right?
That’s a high-level overview of my process. I’m going to keep building content around this in hopes of improving my processes and my understanding of how exactly I do what I do.