Five things I learned from my dogs about effective writing

Social Visibility Consulting has two mascots (who also happen to be my coworkers). Ossi is a corgi/yellow lab mix and Eli is a corgi/border collie mix (we think). They're both quirky, lovable goofballs and both were adopted from local rescue groups. The boys have taught me a lot about enjoying life and, surprisingly, I've also learned a lot from them about writing -- in spite of their lack of opposable thumbs. 

dog mascots

1. Be yourself.
If you try to write like someone else, it will sound false and robotic. If you don’t inject at least a little personality into what you’re writing it will sound like a financial prospectus and, let’s face it, no one reads those because they’re boring. Don’t try to sound like something you’re not, your readers will be on to you. If you need someone to write something from a particular perspective that’s not your own, hire a writer. Our special talent is becoming  mini “experts” on just about everything and communicating in the style you need us to. And here’s a secret, a twinkle of our own personality always comes through.

2. If it’s interesting, dig for it.
If I want general information, I’ll scan an entry on Wikipedia. If you’re going to write about something, whether it’s your company, industry or area of expertise, do your homework and dig for real information we can’t easily find elsewhere.  This may mean spending extra time researching and learning about your topic, but the payoff will come when your readers view you as the go-to source for a particular subject. And, as Ossi and Eli will confirm, sometimes the joy is in the digging itself.

3. Stick your head out the window. 
Don’t fall too much in love with your own words. Stick your head out of the proverbial window once and awhile to assess your audience. You may want to write a company blog post and tie it into a recent controversy in the news. But the topic may end up stirring up the wrong kind of feedback, becoming an issue for your organization and losing you readers (and, ultimately, customers). Know your audience and find out what kind of information they’re looking for. Bonus lesson: Not all attention is good attention.

corgi yellow lab

4. Take a nap or a walk. 
Don’t participate in reactionary writing, particularly if you’re writing in a forum that represents your business. Social media often requires a nearly instant turnaround, but not every comment is worth replying to. Before you write something you’ll regret and can’t take back (remember, the Internet has an infinite memory), step away from your keyboard and really think about your reaction and the appropriate response. Sometimes it will be to shake, sometimes it will be a bark, occasionally a growl, but sometimes your best response is no response.

5. Be patient and keep at it. 
If you struggle with writing, but you love to do it, keep writing. Write for yourself, write as a hobby, work to excel at your professional writing. Read about writing and practice writing. You’ll just keep getting better at it. The first time we threw the ball for Ossi and Eli they didn’t know what to do. Now, they chase it and, occasionally, bring it back. Fetch, like writing, is a work in progress.

corgi border collie