So, your company needs to produce a piece of written content, which means you’re probably looking for (or at least considering) a skilled writer to pen it.
By skilled writer, I’m talking about someone whose job description involves writing.
Makes perfect sense.
I’m here to tell you: Don’t discount the non-writers.
Don’t make the mistake of ignoring someone who has a great story just because they don’t write regularly—or all that well.
Case in point: a post my friend and Montreal restaurateur
Alex Winnicki wrote.
He wrote it for the group blog that I run about the interplay of food and life in Montreal. It’s called ici et here
Alex is a restaurateur and must’ve told me eight times before the post: “Yo, man, I ain’t a writer.” No, he is not. But his story is from the heart.
In his blog post
, Alex talks about the neighborhood where he’s lived for 28 years—how it has changed, and how he and his brother try to bring their multiethnic backgrounds to bear on their cuisine.
“Things have most definitely changed in the area. Industries have moved, the Lachine Canal is now home to leisure boats, not barges and the bike path is busier than ever. I still wonder where that family of turtles by the Canal went? And the heron? I dunno. Verdun?”
The language of Alex’s post is simple and plain and won’t win praise from English majors. But who cares?
Unlike most of the other bloggers on ici et
here, Alex has no online rep or profile to speak of, yet his post has received better-than-average traffic.
Why? Because it is good, and it struck a chord with the readers of the blog.
Writers and publishers tend to obsess over high-quality writing. They should. But sometimes less-than-perfect technique, coupled with a great story, also works. This is especially true in the era of social media, in which authenticity matters.
To be perfectly clear, I am not saying you should publish crap that reads like a fourth-grade essay. But there are tons of great stories out there. Don’t leave them untold because someone is a less-than-amazing writer.
Here are three quick tips for working with unskilled writers:
1. Talk them out of it.
When you deal with folks who are not super-skilled writers, first suggest they use another medium. For instance, video might be a better way to the story.
2. Put on your editing cap.
If they insist on using text, give yourself time to edit their work, and explain the editing process to them.
3. Don’t scrub the copy too clean.
Make sure you preserve their voice
A version of this post first appeared on the blog Proper Proaganda.