I did it all wrong.
When I started cranking out newsletters – shortly after the earth’s crust cooled – I wanted to Get It Right. So I studied every template, tip and technique available. Scoured the internet and library for pointers and how-tos. Wrote and rewrote headlines, by lines, subject lines and clotheslines. Chased every cool idea and creative lead I could. Producing a quality newsletter is serious stuff. I wanted to Get It Right.
A newsletter that was as flat as an open can of soda left out for a week.
The “experts” (who are these people?) may have answers related to style, format and even basic content. But something was missing: Me.
I was trying so hard to Get It Right, I was churning out someone else’s idea of a great newsletter. Not mine. The result was a product that tasted like yesterday’s oatmeal.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not urging you to totally ignore “expert advice” or toss out every guide or template. Refusing to learn or improve is foolish and short-sighted. But learning from someone else’s suggestions and being chained to another’s ideas, style or substance are two different things. Avoid the latter.
Spring-boarding and Swan Diving
It’s the same with writing, isn’t it? Spring-boarding off an idea or approach into a pool that’s fresh and bold can be inspiring. Motivating. Bracing. But ladling out someone else’s soup or gimping along a worn-out, one-way writing street? It may seem safe, but it’s boring. As dull as a melted putty knife.
That swan dive into your own style and substance may seem daunting, even dangerous. But it’s how you get rid of your writing “water wings” and learn to swim for yourself.
How did you bridge “getting it right” by “getting it wrong”?