It was a common pattern for me at University: I seemed to ace those essays or assignments that I left to the last minute, staying up all coffee-drenched night to finish and just about handing in (hard copy submissions only back in my day!) five minutes before the cut-off; and yet, when I started things earlier, planned, wrote, revised, checked, re-worked and submitted ahead of schedule, I seemed to get not such great grades.
I put it down then, as I do now, to the fact that I seem to do better work - as do many - when I have the pressure of a looming deadline, when I need to think less and write more intuitively, more instinctively.
Dr Claire Trevien, Head of Content Marketing at Passle, recently spoke in a LinkedIn video about writing content that's trying to be too clever - how flourish and substance is worth little if your content isn't adding value. And that could be where us content writers sometimes go wrong.
To that end, I remembered an excellent post from Sujan Patel, writing for the Content Marketing Institute, which discussed this theme in detail; how overthinking your content can be a barrier to writing what your audience wants to read.
In it Patel speaks of the crippling impact that striving for the ideal can have on a content writer's ability to start, much less complete, a piece of work. There's the overwhelming desire to put a totally (but often unattainable) unique slant on whatever you are writing; the aspiration for that piece of content to reach giddying heights of popularity online; and then the overwhelming desire to finesse, improve, tweak so that it sounds just so.
And the quest for perfection can come from others too. As the post underlines: "if you’re passing an article to 10 people to review, make changes, and approve before it can go live, something has to give... Too many changes by too many people, and parts of your original message could get lost."
The article finishes on a similar point to that Trévien makes in her video, it's really not about how you sound as a writer, it's about what your customers want to hear.
It's true: your audience wants to hear authenticity, to be able to connect with and trust in what your saying and to believe that you understand them on a human level. In short, they don't want faultless perfection, they want honesty.
The final word to Sujan Patel once more: "Stop stressing about creating that ideal piece of content and just be yourself."
You might find it hard to believe, but content doesn’t have to be game-changing to perform well and achieve its objectives. In my experience, a lot of marketers are fixated on creating that “perfect” piece of content. They tell themselves they won’t settle for anything less, but the reality is that what they wind up creating is rarely as revolutionary as they hoped it would be. There are a few reasons why. Perfectionism isn’t healthy It causes stress, which in turn can cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, and increased susceptibility to infection, and much more.