No matter what kind of professional writing we do – corporate, marketing, journalism, PR – when we’re working on an assignment and it’s time to get our fingers on the keyboard, typically two things are going on at once while we’re trying to craft great sentences:
- We’re on deadline, and
- We’re trying to find unique, meaningful ways to put words together to connect with our readers
Even if we’re used to turning out solid work on deadline, the combination of these two things can be deadly for interesting writing that resonates with our audience. It’s why practice writing is so important, because it helps take the pressure off the deadline (we’ve done this before and learned to do it well) and allows us to concentrate deeply on writing that connects.
I saw a beautiful documentary recently, called “Radiant Child,” about the late painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Whenever I watch documentaries about artists – of the written word or the visual art variety – I’m always fascinated with the “How.” How they developed their style, how they get down to work every day, how they translate ideas into the solid three-dimensional world.
A number of people who knew Basquiat spoke about the confidence with which he wielded a brush, the speed, steadiness and directness of the brushstroke. Basquiat, who died at the very young age of 27, leaving behind more than 1,000 paintings and even more drawings, apparently had an expression for what was happening when he was creating.
“Boom for Real!” he called it.
What “Boom for Real” meant to Basquiat only he knew. But, the phrase resonates for me because those of us who write for a living are so frequently called upon to produce with speed, accuracy and brilliance each and every time content is needed.
It’s not so much about the rote repetition, the “Practice Makes Perfect” approach. It’s more about the confidence that all those practice sessions instills. It takes confidence to pound a keyboard under deadline pressure and make meaning of a story or messages in such a way that an audience feels the writing is real and relevant.
It’s why we practice so hard, so when the time comes, we’re ready to Boom for Real!