Here, I will offer tips on writing copy like a FLCW should…Well Fed Writer style.

What Commercial Writing Pearl Would You Share As a Guest Blogger?

I pride myself on being able to write “multi-tasking” copy – like the headline above. Yes, this post is both a call for guest bloggers and a call for great commercial freelancing business subjects/ideas/strategies in your comments.

I gotta say, I’ve truly been blown away by the brilliant, wise, and insightful blog commentary from you guys these past 11 weeks since blog launch. In less than 90 days, we’ve built a pretty amazing knowledge base on a variety of subjects in the commercial freelancing arena – over 350 comments in all at press time! And so I want to open the floor to your contributions. And yes, I won’t lie – it’d be nice to get a bit ‘o help in cranking these things out regularly. Which, of course, is consistent with the collaborative nature of my books, ezine, and now, the blog. One “well-fed writer’s” perspective is only so tasty and satisfying.

So, what would you share? Even if you don’t plan on guest blogging, give us a snapshot of the most important lesson you’d share with your fellow FLCWs (freelance commercial writers for those new to the neighborhood…).

Perhaps a prospecting strategy that’s borne much fruit over the years?

An unusual market (if you’re willing to reveal it)?

A particularly great success story?

A fabulous tip that’s made you more efficient, better networked, more profitable?

An insight into the business that’s made a huge difference for you?

Perhaps a subject you’d like to see me or someone else cover in the blog?

If you DO want to expand that gem of a comment into a full-fledged guest post, take 400-600 words to tell your story. And you know this blog’s drill: questions at the end to pull out the golden nuggets. Make it a subject with “legs” – one that can spawn a rich discussion.

What’s in it for you? Besides rocketing prestige in the eyes of your peers? You mean, that’s not enough? 😉 Seriously, got a book, ebook, ezine, report, service, blog, web site (writing-related, preferably…) you want to promote? As a quid pro quo for sharing your goodies, I welcome your plug at the end of the piece.

So, comment away, and if you want to do a post, send your idea to me at

Even Seasoned Scribes Fret Over “Just-Turned-In” Copy…

I recently got a note from a fellow FLCW and friend of mine up in New York. Here’s what he wrote:

Peter: Do you sometimes anguish over the waiting period, after you’ve submitted work to a client and then anticipate their thumbs-up or thumbs-down response? As I write these words, I’m waiting on a client to whom I sent what I believe is some pretty solid creative copy. But the longer it takes to hear back from them, the more that glass-half-empty side of my mind’s town crier belches out, “Now hear this: they hate it! They hate it!”

Do others ever go through this kind of self-doubt? Do you sometimes think the worst? Or wonder if you’re good enough to be doing this sort of work? Do you find yourself too needy in the “I-need-validation” department? I confess that this yoke finds itself around my professional neck more often that it ought to. But, I can’t help it! Am I totally alone in my self-imposed angst?

My reply?

You’re absolutely NOT alone in that. Believe it or not, I go through the same thing on every project. Thanks to a lot of successes and happy clients over the years, I’m not nearly as crazy about it about it as I was some years back. In fact, in the rare cases in which I DO miss the mark these days, in most cases, it’s a matter of the client changing direction or not being clear, because I will ask the right questions to get the copy right. But yes, until I hear, I’m always a bit concerned.

In fact, as I write this, I’m waiting to hear back from a client about the third ad I’ve written for their company in the past few weeks. The creative director loved the first two, and I’m sure she’ll like the latest, but she also usually responds within a few hours. It’s been closer to 24, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t nag at me a bit…

Perhaps it’s something in the nature of writers (okay, some writers; I’d be curious as to Jon McCulloch’s take – the subject of the 5/12/08 blog post (just scroll down) – a fundamental insecurity about putting our creations our there – especially when money’s on the line. Perhaps it’s just human nature – the propensity to think the worst when an outcome isn’t certain.

So, if that sounds familiar, you’re not alone, and if you’re still on the outside of the business looking in, know that even the seasoned pros chew a fingernail from time to time. And in a perverse way, I see an upside: that mindset will always keep you a bit humble, and humble writers listen carefully to their clients to make sure they DO create work that hits the mark. Which, in turn, will keep those angst-ridden moments to a minimum.

Do you experience those pangs of insecurity if you don’t hear back from a client after turning in copy?

Have you gotten beyond it, and if so, what made the difference for you?

Sucky Writing Skills (in Business World) = Good Writing Opportunities (for Us!)

A column in my local paper this morning was yet one more gloomy drumbeat of many these days about the sorry state of writing skills amongst young people. According to a recent Pew Research Center Study, “64% of teens report that the informal styles often found in electronic communication do bleed into their school work” (i.e., 50% have used informal capitalization, 38% have used text short cuts like “LOL” or “ur,” and 25% have used emoticons).

In addition, The Nation’s Report Card on Writing 2007, while generally showing improvement over 2002, still showed only one-third of 8th graders writing to the “Proficient or higher” level.

Those kids grow up to be the workers of tomorrow, and one can’t assume that their writing skills will suddenly become strong and compelling, minus the shorthand and emoticons. In fact, what’s already happening is likely to continue happening.

A December 2004 New York Times article, “What Corporate America Can’t Build: A Sentence,” discussed a study by the National Commission on Writing, which concluded that a third of employees in the nation’s blue-chip companies wrote poorly and that businesses were spending as much as $3.1 billion annually on remedial training.

And when a company that wants to stay competitive knows that its people can’t write to the required level to maintain that competitiveness, chances are good they’ll turn to those who can. I’ve said this forever: writing skills suck in the business world, and that can only bode well for those of us who have the skills.

What are some of the most egregious examples (actual or recalled) of bad writing you’ve come across?

How has your writing practice benefited from the poor state of writing skills out there in the business world?