One of your offerings: distance

I mentioned here that simply offering educated literacy means you can save people time–people whose time is worth a great deal and will pay you for saving it. I wrote this to especially encourage beginners to be willing to start out without lacking confidence. Even beginners have something valuable to offer.

But that’s not the only thing.

Let me introduce this idea by repeating something I read from mystery-writer Lawrence Block many years ago. He wrote (somewhere!) that writing a novel is easier than writing a short story. A longer work gives you room to make everything in the story fit together. Short stories require a great deal more thought and work to make all the elements fit together.

Nonfiction isn’t quite the same deal. Sometimes it is easier to write a short piece because the topic can be covered in a short amount of space.

But it does hold true that sometimes people who are passionate about a large topic are sometimes not, for that reason, the most qualified to produce a short piece. Their passion may help them write a book but, if they need to put out shorter writings, their passion may just get in the way. Many an editor learns this when forced to tell an expert author that the article he or she just submitted is twice as long as it should be.

Whether you are writing a voters guide for a political group or a sales brochure for widgets, the person hiring you may need you the most precisely because you are not as involved in the topic. Your distance allows you to think about what matters: how to get the reader to act in the desired way. The client may be too focused on on all the information he possesses. He is too close to the subject to make the quick decisions necessary to get the writing project completed by deadline.


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