CJ Chilvers is a photography blogger I follow who calls himself 'A lesser photographer'. He has a refreshingly simple approach to photography which is reflected in his writing – short, sharp posts that, more often than not, stop and make you think.
A few days ago he posted with the heading 'Surprise!'. 'The foundation of any good story is surprise,' he said. As he points out, 'surprise is the only thing that makes the news'.
In other words, it's the surprising photographs that get attention.
This is great advice for photographers, but also for writers. It is especially important advice for those who write what would typically be called 'uncreative' writing: business website copy, business brochures, business emails and letters.
The truth is that these forms of writing are only thought of as uncreative because that's the mindset they are traditionally approached with. Business writing is 'serious', therefore it needs to be straightforward and use typical business words ... or so the thinking goes.
This is rubbish.
Business writing is a form of communication. The only rule that needs to be applied to business writing is that it must communicate effectively. Beyond that, there are no rules.
Business writing can include stories. It can include humour. It can be personable. It can even be emotional.
When business writing includes some or all of these things, it stands a chance of cutting through the impenetrable dross that smothers most of the business world. It stands a chance of being understood and remembered rather than simply being lost amongst the weeds.
The good news is that you don't need to be very creative to stand out. 'Surprise' in business writing doesn't require poetry or Nobel Prize-worthy prose. It just requires something a little different. Being less formal is a good place to start.
Challenge yourself. You might be surprised at what you can come up with.
As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please add a comment below or contact me.