I was talking to another writer the other day about the differences between writing on a computer vs long hand. While we both agreed how much easier it is to edit and rewrite on the computer, we couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or bad because we both found that computers make it difficult to stick with an ancient writing truth that I formulate as “If you start to edit before you’re done writing, you’re done writing.”
Writing and editing are two different animals. They use different parts of the brain. Writing is a creative act. It demands a willingness to be open to any possibility, the freedom to move in any direction. It has a whole other sense to it than editing. Editing applies rules and critical thinking. It is a solid; creativity is fluid. Both are needed. They just can’t exist at the same time.
Creativity, or inspiration requires not giving into internal or external critical voices, like the ones that want to correct typos, Coaches and creative directors know this (or should).
That’s why in a creative coaching and brainstorming sessions, I create a “No Negativity Zone.” Responses to statements must be either neural or positive. No “noes”, “buts”, (even “yes, buts”), or “be practicals.” Practical is for later.
“Yes, ands...” are the preferred response. Anyone who can’t stay positive has to leave (or sit in a corner.) When a group sticks to the rules for 45 minutes to an hour, something magical can take place. The room takes on a different feel. One person begins an idea, and it bounces around the room like a beach ball until suddenly an idea, or direction appears that never would have occurred to anyone without people exchanging freely.
It’s often harder than it sounds and, for some, it’s just about impossible. You have to leave your ego aside because it can’t be about you. It’s not about right or wrong. There is no wrong and everything is possible... even if you misspeak.
And for writing on my own, I invoked a “No Mouse” zone. I lock my track pad and mouse in a drawer for a specific length of time and type away, ignoring typos, spelling errors, and that little negative voice in the corner of my mind that is holding a red pen and waiting his time to edit.
From ad copy and campaigns to presentations, slogans and web sites, there are ways to create messages that people remember.
Writers and presentation coaches learn them instinctively. Educators and authors, Chip Heath and Dan Heath documented them in their book “Made to Stick.” I fashioned them into the S.E.C.R.E.T.S. to making messages memorable.
S. Keep it Simple. Get to the core of what you want your audience to remember and put it into a sound bite. It’s not easy but it is effective. Think of “Just do it.” Once we hear it, it’s a no-brainer. A trick to help: when you think you’ve gotten to the core ask “Why?” or “What’s behind that?” Then repeat, repeat, repeat.
Remember the essence has its own energy. An outside ear is a big help.
E. Make it Emotional. People may or may not remember facts, but they remember how you make them feel. Get to the heart of the matter. Why should your audience care about you or your message? How can you get them to experience that? Tie it to your facts and they will remember.
C. Are you and your message Credible? An audience has to trust in order to care. What is going to make your audience feel like you are trustworthy? The real deal? Bring your Cred to the game.
R. Keep your message Real. Put your message into the reality your audience lives day to day. Yes, that means you actually have to know the reality your audience experiences.
E. Add the unExpected. Nothing attracts our attention faster than a surprise. Whether it is a turn of phrase, an image, a sound or an event, we enjoy the unexpected and we remember them! How can you bring your message in a way that’s unpredictable? If I believe I know what is going to happen next, I have left the building.
T. Create a presentation that’s Tangible. We have 5 senses... at least. Touch them all! We remember the visceral. The more senses touched, the greater the chance we’ll remember. Great story tellers bring the senses alive.
S. Tell your story through Stories. Stories provide context to your message. They capture our imagination, inspire us, warn us and enliven us. Stories are the lifeblood of cultures, families, histories and BRANDS! Tell us your story, make it our story.
When messages are told that are
Tangible and delivered through
They become unforgettable.
Let's aim for that.
Check out the book “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
A special thanks to Tim Wilkins, graphic artist extraordinaire, who worked with me guiding presenters to new heights of creativity and effectiveness and afterward introduced me to “Made to Stick” as kindred spirits. “You will so love this book.” And he was right. I did.