The world is crudely commercial. Everything is for sale and this includes services of a writer too. And therefore writers, who offer their writing services or write for money, are Commercial Writers. From the earliest identified printed advertising medium (bronze plate for printing an ad was used for the Liu family needle shop at Jinan, song dynasty China) to the now popular online and offline media, writers have been paid to write according to the need of publishers.
Here, a sincere mention is necessary that I am not, and strictly not, talking about litterateurs, who write for their own pleasure; this lot is comprised of novelists, dramatists, poets or any such author/writer.
In the commercial world, the term Writer is compartmentalized for convenience. There are copywriters, content writers, web copywriters, business writers, news writers and others. At the same time, Writer also connotes ‘literary figures’ I mentioned above.
I am not dealing with basics or nuances of writing, but would like to discuss how a budding writer can turn himself into a mature and professional writer by following fairly decent practices.
For me Google is a search engine…not a dictionary, not a grammar book
Every writer who writes for online media should express his/her gratitude to Google. Online marketers heavily rely upon the search engine to vie for that heavenly rank. And to get that rank, they need a decently-written text on a web page. Here comes a writer into picture. Out of their reverence to Google, writers occasionally overly rely on this engine for everything.
I have seen many writers (some of them are actually charlatans) finding meaning and synonyms of a word in Google. Never follow this practice. Google is a search engine and not an authority on any language. It displays results of your search queries and doesn’t offer any linguistic help.
For your language support, I recommend authorized online dictionaries from OUP, Collins or any other reputed institutes/universities. These online versions not only explain meanings in detail, but also give you examples telling you how to use a particular term in a sentence. You can also access thesaurus on the same web pages.
Deal with your Clients Effectively
If you are working as freelancer, give respect to your clients. By this, I intend to say that a writer should never miss a deadline; submit your project on the dot and see the gleaming face of your client.
A lethargic writer would never make the grade in this highly competitive world. Though good writers are always in great demand in a country like India, clients would never pander to your sluggish attitude.
During my tenure at a leading astrology portal, I once missed a deadline, and I had to face the music from the CEO. Later he explained me that submitting predictions before 24 hours is sacrosanct in astrology business. I too realized that if any customer receives today’s predictions only today, how he would take any decision based on that fortune forecast.
Use your Ego as a Tool
I had a chance to work with a hospitality brand; it was a group of some ten odd companies and the chairman believed in managing an entire creative department in-house, rather than hiring an agency. I was appointed as copywriter and a few months later another copywriter was introduced. She taught me this important lesson: Ego is necessary.
For the next few days, I pondered over her statement. It took me some time to conclude that ego can help you create a personality of your own; this can work in your favour. Sometimes you boast of your achievements, and it builds your self-confidence, and you leave a better impression in the first meeting. Moreover, it sends out a clear message to people around you that you are not any Tom, Dick, and Harry overboard.
However, care should be taken that you never instill a feeling that only you can write a better copy or content. Accept challenges and show your conviction. This will inspire you to work hard on the project you are assigned to.
If you think that suggestions made by your client or a superior (if you are working as full-time writer) are acceptable, then accept them. But if those suggestions are not acceptable, have courage to say no; don’t include the suggestions in your copy.
Some superiors tend to give suggestions to show their superiority; but you should carry a demeanor of a consummate writer and should tell people that you know your business well. After all, it’s your job to convince your client/superior that whatever you do is good for the project.
Vernaculars can also join the English Party
Mangrol is a small town located in Saurashtra region in Gujarat. During the Second World War, a British officer took a coachman with him to Britain. The coachman would do some errands apart from steering coaches of army officials. Six years later, when he returned to Mangrol, he was speaking six languages of different nations from Allies.
The coachman barely had primary education in a vernacular school. He learnt those languages only because he breathed in that European ambiance 24×7; he interacted with European officers; he got the first-hand experience of diverse cultures like French, Russian, Polish and others. In a way, he imbibed those cultures.
What is the takeaway from this true story: no matter what you learned in school, the environment you are living in matters. So, a writer needs to create that mise a scene around himself with the help of thought-provoking books, good education of language, judicious consumption of different audio-visual media and most importantly make friends with people who can speak to you in your language.
Another point to note is that listening is the most important part of learning any language. Keep learning, reading and writing; you can master any foreign language.
Learn the Art of Negotiation
Finally, a freelance writer has to learn how to negotiate rates with clients. Discussing writing charges is like walking on a tightrope; on every step, acrobat has to strike perfect balance. A writer must not overestimate or underestimate his abilities.
Time is a key phenomenon while quoting yourself; before submitting your quote, look at the project from all sides. How much time you require to submit the project – this includes your time to do initial research for the project and brainstorming sessions with clients.
There are many writers who quote per word; while there are some who quote per page. Consider your comfort and quote accordingly. Keep some space for negotiation, because clients would always negotiate and you have to respect their ego, because they are the ones who have money.
To sum up, I would say that there is no subject untouchable for any writer. Gather as much information and knowledge as you can. Develop lateral thinking and use your knowledge and discretion while writing. Write with conviction and people would certainly like to read your content.
Remember that a writer can actually change the minds of his readers – positively or negatively. As a professional, you are expected to create an impact on the target audience so that they develop a positive view towards a brand, a product or a service you are promoting by your writings.