tackling complex projects is like riding a bike

To be honest, although the title talks about tackling large copywriting projects, this applies to any project.

When faced with a new project brief, it’s tempting to jump straight in and start writing.

The problem with that approach is that you’ll end up with something unstructured, muddled and about as engaging as…well, something not very engaging.

If you’re going to do justice to your work, break it down into small chunks.

It’s a bit like cycling.

At the weekend I took part in a 112 mile cycle sportive in the Lake District – yes, it was very hilly.

In fact the first climb we came to went on for an eternity (OK, it was about 3 miles, but it felt a lot longer).

When I first started tackling major distances I used to be daunted by the sheer scale of the task that lay ahead.

Then I learnt to break it down: on a 100 mile sportive there are generally 2 feed stops. Therefore, I broke the ride down into 3 sections. Looking at it that way made the distance easier to deal with.

It’s the same with climbing.

As the bottom of a major climb, if I looked up ahead of me I immediately became demoralised at the task ahead.

As I developed as a cyclist I learned to look only at the tarmac in front of my wheel (of course, being away of where other cyclists and cars were around me). That way I could just concentrate on my breathing. It took away the fear factor of what lay ahead, helping me pace myself.

One step at a time

Every copywriter has their own way of dealing with projects, but here’s mine.

Once I have a brief, I break it down into the following stages:

  • Reading and understand of the brief to determine the end goal
  • Research of the client, product/service, their customers and competitors
  • Plan an outline of the structure of the piece of copy
  • Creating a first draft

Once this stage has been reached the client is then once again involved as we collaborate to refine the copy to reach its final draft.

As the content is refined, I constantly revert back to the original brief to make sure the goals are being met along the way.

It’s not rocket science, but it is a valuable discipline to learn, especially if you have a tendency to dive in and just write.

A structured approach will lead to clear and well thought out copy.

That’s really all there is to it.

Do you work along similar lines, or do you have different techniques and procedures?