Can you write? I don’t mean the process of throwing a few words down on a page in a hastily constructed sentence. What I want to know is can you write in a way that will engage the reader, inform them, influence them to take action? Will they remember what you said? Will they even finish reading what you’ve written?
Over the last 20 years, I’ve had the fortune to work with some stunning copy from the people who have written for me and the magazines I have edited.
One such piece was an article by Paddy Ashdown for a New Statesman Political Studies Guide a few years ago. He very adeptly wove personal experience into some well-thought through arguments for how Britain can achieve its own best interests while at the same time playing a key role on the global stage. A potentially rather dull subject became interesting, and readers were expertly persuaded that isolationism isn’t the answer. It has stuck in my mind ever since – its messages even more important in an age of Brexit and Trump.
Another article of note was one about the need for more male participation in the feminist movement. It was written by Sue Tibballs, the chief executive of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, for LEAD: Leadership for Equality and Diversity. In a time when it sometimes feels dangerous or inappropriate to talk about the positive impact men can have on the lives of women, this piece was both measured and brave. It challenged the reader to think differently about feminism and who is supposed to play what role. It was also evidenced – which helped strengthen the credibility of the piece.
Equally, I have had to sit through more than my fair share of badly-written diatribe that has been poorly structured, full of spelling and grammatical errors, and which has failed to coherently make a case for anything other than the author being a terrible writer. Such instances have included contributions from MPs, business leaders and other supposed experts in their field, but who have somehow on their journey to top of the career ladder, failed to grasp what makes for effective written communication.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton wasn’t wrong when he said the pen is mightier than the sword. The written word can have power. It can transform lives, change behaviours, and place people and brands on a pedestal for the world to see. A well-argued blog has the potential to go viral and be shared among audiences in their thousands or even millions. A LinkedIn post packed with useful information can help secure an individual’s reputation as an expert. A real-life case study can transport you into different communities around the world and put you directly in someone else’s shoes.
Having a talent for crafting words isn’t something you are born with. It can be taught. It can be learned. It can be practised.
With this in mind, I would like to invite you to participate in my new writing workshop. Designed to help you raise your profile and enhance your reputation through the use of carefully chosen and placed words, it will cover the fundamentals of storytelling and leave you enhanced writing skills, a content plan to use within your wider communications strategy, and a blog that is ready to be published.
The first cohort runs from 19 November to 14 December and includes four hours of training via video conferencing, a PDF workbook, practical exercises, one-to-one consultation with me, and membership of a Facebook Group for on-going support. You can see the full course outline here.
There are just 12 places available. The introductory price is just £250. The course will be repeated throughout 2019.