Monday, August 4, 2008

Wash That Blank Right Out of Your Screen

Yes, I haven’t posted in eight days. But you know what? That’s because I didn’t have anything to say about writing for a few days. There are blogs that look like they’re under extreme pressure to post every single day no matter what, even when the blogger clearly has nothing to say. If you've got nothing, wait until you do. But I’ve got a few things on my mind today, so settle in.

First, it occurred to me last night after far too many hours spent staring at a computer screen, that writing an article or piece of web copy is a lot like washing really dirty hair. It may not be the way that normal people wash their hair every day, but I think I left normal behind the last time I went to a convenience store and pretended to be English.

Anyway, the main concept is using shampoo, clarifier and conditioner. The blank screen is the dirty hair. You want to wash the blankness off the screen with the heavy-duty shampoo. The shampoo will throw all of your research and insight onto the screen and leave it covered in the basic shape of what you want to express.

For anyone who has never used a clarifier, it’s something you use to wash residue from styling products or heavy conditioners out of the hair. When you use it after shampooing, it can get rid of anything in your hair that shouldn’t be there. The clarifying stage for writing is exactly the same- clear it up and make it express the idea as clearly as possible. Get rid of anything that sounds too awkward or self conscious and clean the typos out of the copy.

Conditioning the hair is what makes it smooth, shiny and soft. You want the copy to be touchable and inviting for the reader. It should read smoothly and be easily managed by any reader who happens across it. Cut the sentence length if you need to. Break the work up into manageable segments.

Don't worry about blow drying your copy- that will probably just fluff it up and make it look like it's overdone. You want it to sound effortless and air dried. If you want to add a barrette sometimes, however, that can make the copy stand out. A link, a sidebar, a crack about how you're weird at convenience stores- those little extras may end up being what people remember most.


Russell Cavanagh said...

I'm bald. Please help ...

L. Shepherd said...

Whoops! Then it's like, um, actually I have no idea.