Writing from a Fresh Perspective
In an interview with a magazine publisher more than a year ago, I was asked how I keep my copy fresh and new when I basically write the same thing repeatedly.
She was browsing a story I wrote about sourcing gambling supplies in a city in mainland China. I realized, indeed, how do I write effectively about a place I have never been to and industries I know superficially based on the scant information I get from mainland-based market analysts?
The problem about working with an “innovation-anemic” (to borrow a phrase from my creative ex) behemoth is that everything is templated. There is no room for jazzing up. You cannot sound casual or conversational. Copy can only be written a certain way: “Makers in so-and-so are doing this . . .”
In the case of this sourcing story I’m struggling to write (unsuccessful, all these six hours today), I place myself in the buyer’s shoes and ask: Why would I source from this place? What makes them different from the other hubs? How would I benefit from working with them?
I try not to go through similar published articles so that the piece-in-progress does not echo the templated narration. While I am encouraged to study old articles and see how an issue is tackled, I find that reading previous articles influences my writing and I risk sounding old, boring, rusty, and well, templated—a state I am constantly fighting.
It’s this challenge that has made me start to like my job (oh, yes, I like it now, I realize). While I would admit that it was an offer I took up only because I wanted a writing position and refused to go the call center path, the job allows me to constantly practice my writing—something I veered away from when I went the way of publishing and manuscript editing. It is in practicing that we get better.