I wasn’t one of those girls who kept a journal. I did keep a very boring diary, though.
The way it looked, all leather and with gold-edged pages and that tiny lock and key, made me feel like an important princess or character in a book, even though its contents were simply a fact-based daily log of what I did.
Bor-ing! But when I was inspired in other writing areas, actually charged up to write, I took off!
Sometimes it would be a class assignment, sometimes it would be what I just wanted to write about. No matter which it was, it was always something I was passionate about.
Here a few things I remember writing:
1. A five-page play called “A Day in the Life of an Optometrist.” This was for a 5th grade writing project.
That’s probably a weird title for you to read, I’m imagining just about now. But here’s why I wrote it—I had to get glasses when I was in the 4th grade. And then I had to get contact lenses because my coke-bottle glasses kept getting thicker and thicker with each exam.
This was a new and complicated experience for me. And my eye doctor, who’d been a family friend since he was born (no joke—his parents and my grandparents were friends), was so nice that when we had an assignment to write a little play, I decided he’d be my topic.
Imagine my surprise when, 35 years later, Dr. S. pulled out the copy I’d given him when I was in the 5th grade! It was handwritten on notebook paper. He kept it in my file all those years. Who says writing can’t influence someone!
2. I wrote, co-wrote actually, a spy novel with my best friend when we were 11 and 12.
She was my Beatle Buddy and the stars of our spy novel were The Beatles! Yep, we loved the Beatles so much that we honored them by writing our version of the James Bond books we saw in our homes and the Man from U.N.C.L.E and the original The Avengers TV shows we watched every week.
We alternated chapters, with me writing one chapter, then mailing it to her to write the next. Then she’d mail it back to me to write the next chapter. She had moved to Michigan and we kept our mutual love of the Beatles going, along with our friendship by keeping our spy novel in the mail.
No one else saw that writing, which we never finished. Hmmm. Maybe we should finish it now. I found it a few years ago when cleaning out my childhood bedroom.
3. In high school I loved to write anything for our English teacher, Mrs F. She was adored by my class and she managed to fill her schedule with classes for us and us alone.
We loved her so because her choice of books for us to read was the best—The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, Catcher in the Rye.
And she always gave me A’s. I was thrilled one day when her red ink at the top of my paper said, “You CAN write, you know!”
I used to think I could write
When I began to write ads and newsletters for my family’s clothing stores and then for my own business—my niche Carolina Culture Tours business—I wrote clever headlines. They rhymed. For my travel business, the headlines referenced something specific in the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
This was in the beginning days of the internet, so not very many people were reading anything online at all. There were no blogs.
All this writing was for newspapers or national magazine ads.
And that’s how all marketing was done pre-2000.
But it wasn’t very effective. A standard conversion rate then was 1 to 3 percent. A lot of money for not much return.
Writing to change people’s lives again!
For many years, probably because I subscribed to Writer’s Digest magazine and my name was sold to a mailing list company, I got mail from an institute that teaches you how to be “a writer that sells.” The letters and brochures from them that came to my mailbox almost monthly talked about how you can earn a living by writing and you don’t have to be “a good writer” to do that.
I decided to enroll and I learned a whole new way of writing. This kind of writing, called copywriting, or “words that sell” or “direct sales writing” is nothing like what you learn in any school from any schoolteacher.
Its results can be measured in the sales dollars the writing brings in. And, now with the internet, we can literally change copy instantly to tweak the words and raise the sales numbers.
Back in the 1960s, the most famous advertising agency man, David Ogilvy, wrote:
“Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.”
He also said:
“I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.”
You know what? That’s what I learned daily from my classes from AWAI, my copywriting school.
And what I’ve come to realize is that what’s important for me is writing to both sell and inform. To never write sleazy, icky, salesy writing. The kind that feels like you’re being beaten over the head with “Buy this now!” messages.
When I write something that helps a business or a customer, it feels like it helps change the world a little bit, one person at a time.
I’m glad to again be writing something that makes a difference, like my “Day in the Life of an Optometrist” did for Dr S, or my spy novel did for me and my friend Sandee when we were tweens, or writing for Mrs F.
What kind of experience was yours?
We all either had really good writing experiences in school or really bad ones.
Those experiences surely influenced the way you feel now about writing.
It is possible to write to make a difference to the people around you—family and friends. And you can also write to make a difference through your business—a difference to your customers, to your industry, even.
If you’re having a writing dilemma in your business, click here to find out about a way we can work on it together to bring you success.
If you often feel like your messages must not be working, or if you don’t even know what to put down—in your emails, your eZines, on your website, in your blog posts or your social media—
If that’s you, then click here to simply get your name on a VIP list to learn more about this new offering when it’s made public only to my VIP list 3 days before the blogosphere finds out about it next week.
To Your Brilliant Success,
PS. Can you tell me how writing has changed over the years for you? I’d love to know.
Did you realize that reading someone else’s experience can be a big inspiration? Even if yours wasn’t so great.
Really, if you want to help change the world, one person at a time, start here, with one story of your writing.
I do want to know! Tell me more. Now, please . . .