Despite being a prolific writer for many years, I’ll confess that the universe seems to have conspired over the past few months to educate me about the true patience, discipline, and craftsmanship required to turn out superior written materials. This educational process began several months ago with my introduction to a professional writing coach, Lynda McDaniel, who not only shared some great tips on the writing process, in general, but also assured me (and a group of my clients) that even the top writers, journalists, and authors around the country agonize over multiple drafts when putting together their materials. This reality check was critical, since it dispelled my notion that the craft of writing should be a piece of cake, if you’re good at it, and that there’s something wrong with you if you’re not able to churn out volumes of flawless prose right out of the gate.
This lesson completed, the universe then decided to send an executive client my way who hired me to help update her resume, bio, and cover letters. Long story short, this client (and you know who you are!) turned out to be the most picky and meticulous individual I’ve ever worked with in terms of the development of her materials, and that’s saying something given my 15 years in the resume-writing and career coaching field! After each round of work we’d complete on her documents, she’d run the new drafts out to her network to gather input and feedback, then come back armed with a fresh slate of edits, advice, and suggestions. Nine drafts later and several weeks into the process, we finally seemed to lock down a satisfactory presentation that she was ready to send out to the public at large. Was I upset by this protracted, time-consuming process? To be honest, no, not once, because while I teased her a lot about the extra time we were taking, I have to admit that each round of scrutiny we went through did, in fact, make her materials stronger — and ultimately, her continued push-back resulted in the production of documents that weren’t merely good, but possibly even great.
Last but not least, after surviving the above two experiences, the cosmos felt I was ready for my final exam — and was kind enough to grant me the wish I’ve had for years; namely, to get a monthly column published in my favorite local publication, the Puget Sound Business Journal. Suddenly, my words and career advice would not just be going out to a few hundred individuals, but to over 25,000 local professionals and decision-makers. Holy stage fright, Batman! Making matters worse, the columns submitted had to be no longer than 800 words in length, adding a considerable degree of difficulty for somebody not used to writing under length limitations — or deadline pressure.
The moral of this story? Looking back, all three of these recent experiences combined to provide me with a potent educational cocktail, and with two published columns now under my belt, and a third on its way, I think I’ve learned more about the writing process in the last three months than I have since, well, good old Ms. Campbell in the 3rd Grade. And while it may not show from this long narrative, I’ve been forced to scrutinize my writing to a far greater degree than ever before — and will now be evangelizing the merits of reworking one’s important written documents 3, 4, or even 5 times before they reach their finished state. It makes a world of difference, and if you haven’t seriously reviewed your own resume and job search “packaging” for a while, then take it from me — perhaps the time has come for a fresh look!