The 3 Deadly Sins of Writing

I remember during my past life planning, designing, developing and launching about 300 or so websites. Over the years there was one common denominator with all these projects: Content was hard.

Does this sound familiar? You get to a certain point in a web development projects and your project manager says, “Time for you to produce the content.” As though this can simply be pulled out of one’s pocket and delivered tidily in a single email. Not so.

I was acutely reminded of this fact when creating the content for this very website you’re on now. I wrote the content myself, with some editing assistance from colleagues, but it was essentially a one man job. I couldn’t believe how difficult this was. I thought it would be a snap.

Here’s where I first went wrong. I wrote all the content about me.

This is a common mistake. You prepare content for a website that is what you want to say, not what your customers need to hear. God, I’ve been doing this for so long how could I possibly make this mistake myself?

Second big mistake. Passivity.

I have a tendency to be passive in my writing. I use words like “just” and “perhaps”. Happily, some stern editing helps to replace (i.e. remove) these passive words, and it has the added benefit of shortening things up.

Third mistake. Lack of planning.

I am a massive believer in planning. I love Excel, I eat GANTT charts for breakfast, and my Asana task list is like a well oiled machine. Well, for whatever reason, I simply didn’t plan properly when I created this site.

I just started writing. I barely had the bones of a site map in my head, let alone down on paper. As I wrote, I found myself going in circles. I was repetitive and I contradicted myself several times.

In the end, as I mentioned above, stern editing saved the day. But this process was ultimately done in the most roundabout way possible. Inefficient as hell. I ultimately arrived in a good place but, man, it was painful.

Remember these three common pitfalls. Try to avoid them yourself during your next major writing endeavour.