If writing feels hard, the problem is not necessarily in the activity itself. You might be trying to write wrong.
“I’m just not a good writer!”
Sometimes entrepreneurs and even communicators come to me with this statement. They think that writing is just not “their thing.” They find that writing takes too much time or feel their work is inferior to someone else’s.
These thoughts lead them to feel discouraged and incompetent to create written content needed for their brands or companies.
I don’t agree with them. I find everyone can be a good (enough) writer and content creator. The key is to identify your own writing style and the content that goes along with that.
Going against your natural approach can make writing feel daunting and resultless.
Which of the following writing styles is yours? Read the descriptions, recognise which style or styles apply the most to you, and rediscover the thrill of writing again!
Perfectionist Writer: First Draft = Final Draft
Some writers like to get everything perfect the first time. They start from the title, rewrite it, tinkle with the first word and try out thirty options before finally being satisfied – and moving to the introductory paragraph.
Perfectionist writers like to write their texts only once and fine-tune every word, sentence, metaphor and alliteration as they go. When they set out to write a piece of content, they like to cradle the idea of only having to do it once.
The upside of being a perfectionist writer is that once the first round of writing is done, the text is very close to being finished. The obvious downside is that they risk getting stuck in the middle just because one perfect word is playing hide-and-seek.
A perfectionist approach to writing may also make feedback feel like a personal insult, in an “After all that effort you dare to say that to me!” kind of way.
If you’re a Perfectionist Writer, consider this
Be sure to map out the structure and logic of your piece before getting to actual writing. That way you’ll be sure you won’t have to switch gears midway through and go through all that hard work again.
What we all can learn from Perfectionist Writer
The perfectionist style is best for final editing rounds when you want to add that special “pop” to your texts. Perfectionist Writers often have the most beautiful metaphors and most insightful analogies, simply because they’ve spent so much time crafting them.
Researcher: Rabbit-Hole, Here I Come!
The Researcher is the cousin of the Perfectionist Writer in the sense that she wants to get everything right. Her ambition doesn’t limit itself to the writing process: she wants to know and understand everything about her topic before even thinking about writing.
Thorough as they are, Researchers aren’t afraid of diving into the rabbit hole to learn everything there is to learn about the topic of their piece. Thanks to this diligent background work, their writing is informational, educational and trustworthy.
As a bonus, a simple social media post often leads to having enough background material to write three articles or a short non-fiction book.
That said, Researchers struggle with managing their time because the in-depth learning process doesn’t always align with the pace of modern communication.
If you’re a Researcher, consider this
Gap your research time and try doing the research in smaller bits, so that you can better evaluate if additional information is still needed. Listen to this insightful episode related to medical writing from the Write Medicine podcast.
What we all can learn from Researcher
All writing benefits from some background research, because it opens up our thinking and elevates the quality of content. Checking your facts from two independent sources is a good rule of thumb to keep your data on track without going too deep into the rabbit hole.
Big Thinker: Which Mind-mapping Tool Was Trending, Again?
Big Thinkers need to clarify the big picture of their topic before getting a single word on the screen. They are big fans of mind-mapping tools, bullet points and flow charts that help them structure their ideas into key points, sections and paragraphs before getting into the nitty-gritty.
Most Big Thinkers have tremendous structure and flow in their writing, thanks to all the advanced thinking. They need to stay aware of the dangers of their style, though: sometimes the previously chosen structure fails to work in the final context, and Big Thinkers need to stay flexible as the writing advances.
Another pitfall to be mindful of is using planning as an advanced form of procrastination. Even Big Thinkers need to sit down on their bums at some point to get creative.
If you’re a Big Thinker, consider this
Leave space for creativity! Map out the key messages and one or two potential structure options and leave the rest to the magic of writing. Some parts of any text only find their final form during the creative process.
What we all can learn from Big Thinker
Having a general idea, even a vague one, on the structure and main messages of the text makes the writing process flow more smoothly. There will be less need for rewriting, and a focused text will make a bigger impact on the reader.
Big Thinking can help Researchers sort out their background information. Perfectionist Writers appreciate the peace of mind that a plan gives, allowing them to fully embrace the smaller details of their piece.
Eternal Editor: Twenty Versions – But That’s Nothing
There’s one writer type that makes Perfectionist, Researcher and Big Thinker look sideways: Eternal Editor.
Eternal Editors research, write and structure their artwork all at the same time. They produce prose with ease and use the writing process as their thinking process. They start with a lousy first draft to find their structure, jump back and forth from writing to research and back, and let their text find its form in the process.
Flexibility is the main weapon of Eternal Editors because they rarely get stuck with their writing. They acknowledge there is always the next version that will be better than the current one. They get into the flow state easily and are often prolific writers.
On the flip side, a relaxed attitude to structuring and research can lead to important points being omitted or key messages getting hazy. Sometimes, after going through twenty-or-so iterations, Eternal Editor doesn’t have time or patience for final polishing.
If you’re an Eternal Editor, consider this
Ask for feedback after the first five drafts to ensure your structure is logical and all core arguments get across well. Whenever possible, use an editor and proofreader to ensure quality control. Alternatively, add a separate finishing phase to your process and separate it from the writing phase. This can make focusing on details easier.
What we can all learn from Eternal Editor
Eternal Editor’s relaxed attitude to “just getting something on paper” is very helpful, as it helps avoid writer’s block and get the first draft out. The flexibility of the process also makes it easy to change directions mid-piece and follow the interesting leads that come up in the process.
Lean Into Your Natural Writing Style
When it comes to content creation, no style is fundamentally better than any other. They all have their ups and downs, and it all comes down to being aware of the pitfalls and finding the perfect writing project for each writer.
Researchers, for example, thrive in environments where fact-checking is crucial, and Eternal Editors usually manage well the dynamism of social media content creation. Perfectionist Writers make for insightful essayists, and Big thinkers are wonderful sparring partners for other writers.
If you’re managing a team, try to match each writer type with a speciality that allows them to enjoy the work and use their super skills. As a solo content creator, use this information when choosing your content formats and platforms.
From the Content Guide below, you’ll find ten ideas to choose from!