A Writer’s Peeve


I happens more often than you might think, and it can be quite a pet peeve of mine.  As a writer (or web designer, graphic designer or anyone who “creates” for others) it is very important to understand exactly what those who are hiring you want.  As a writer I ask a lot of questions – Who is the target audience?  What is the tone? What is the POV? What information needs to be included?  Any do’s or don’ts? Anything else I need to know?

And I always send a rough draft soon into the project to get feedback.  This makes sure that everyone is on the same page, expectations are met and that I don’t do a lot of work when the client is thinking in another direction.  Also, sometimes a client will change their mind once they see things written on the page.

So it is a pet peeve of mine when a client, or someone who is thinking of hiring me, answers all the questions but either doesn’t know what they want or is very bad at communicating it.

And this happened recently.  I was tasked with doing some sample work for a top company where I  live. I asked many questions and followed the instructions that they sent – Target audience was CEOs and CFOs, with certain qualifying information included in the pieces, and modeled after several other writings that had already been published online.  Got it.

I sent a rough draft of the first piece to get feedback, making sure they liked tone, audience, content, etc.  Crickets…..Nothing. …..No feedback.

I turned in the rest of the samples by the requested deadline only to hear back that they did not like the samples. They didn’t think the writing was engaging and did not think that I could write content that would interest the readers.

Ouch. First, as a writer you really cannot have any ego. Writing, like art, can be rather subjective. So you must take criticism with your chin up and with a grain of salt.  You can be the best writer in the world, and not everyone will like you. And that’s OK.

But this was different.  I did as they asked and followed directions specifically.  It was especially frustrating that I scrapped my original drafts, which were quite creative, after their instructions to write like the other assessments that had were online. I read the example articles that I was to model my writing after…and they were very dry, reading a bit like a text book.  I, as was instructed, followed suit. So I wrote in a more conservative and traditional financial tone.

This is why it is so important to send a rough draft, and for those you are writing for to send feedback!  Getting a rough draft is the perfect time to communicate any changes that need to be made.  It would have been the perfect time to tell me “Hey, we need something less financial textbook and more exciting to get the Millennials interested.”

Because at the end of the day, I am a writer, hired to write what the client wants.  And I am a very good writer. But I can only write what they tell me they want.

So if you hire a writer, designer, developer, {insert creative title here}, make sure that you communicate what you want very clearly. And if they send a rough draft for approval/feedback – for the love of God and everything holy- Respond!  If you don’t it is your fault that you do not get what you want, not that of the writer.

 

 

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