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“Write drunk; edit sober.”

The Comms team is pretty fond of this quote.

So, what does it mean and why do we like it?
“I can’t write”. It’s something we often hear from people tasked to write a piece of content for their company website, and share through social media channels; it might be a blog post about a recent event they have held, a piece about the role of their department, or the benefits of their service offering.

To write drunk and edit sober gets the ball rolling. It helps you face the fear and tackle the daunting prospect of a blank word document, head first. It suggests we use two sides of our brain when we create something.

The ‘write drunk’ side that sees endless possibilities and encourages us to:

  • Access ideas from all angles: inside the box, outside the box and way outside the box
  • Go off on a tangent
  • Get enthused, be inspired
  • Draw arrows, circles, highlight words
  • Ramble
  • Ignore the backspace key
  • Type with unashamed confidence
  • Don’t second guess
  • Write as if you’re talking
  • Just get it all down

The ‘edit sober’ side identifies exactly what it is we really want to say. Make sure to:

  • Introduce structure
  • Tear through all the waffle
  • Use a sieve pan and find the gold content
  • Clean up the edges
  • Get to the core message
  • Clarify that the content is conveying exactly what you want it to
  • Tell your readers why this content matters and crucially, what they should do next

We’re not the only ones who value this quote. Tracy Chevalier, author best known for her second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, talks to The Telegraph about her writing,

“The first draft comes out in its craziest form and you shouldn’t stop it, but then you’ve got to edit it. You have to be ruthless, no sentence can’t be reworked”.

Although we do not suggest a Gin and Tonic at your desk first thing on a Tuesday morning, we do recommend tapping into both sides of the brain when tasked with writing content. Firstly, get excited, get enthused and just write; pen to paper, finger tips to keyboard. To be prolific, or ever productive, you’ve got to give yourself permission to write a messy first draft. Secondly, edit down until what you’re left with is an engaging, concise and valuable piece of quality content for your target audience.

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