Saturday, July 22, 2006

 

Kaizen for Writers

Diana's post "Some rules are good," below, links to a great article by GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons. In his "rules to live by," Parsons mentions the concept of Kaizen. I thought I'd post an oldie-but-goodie bit about Kaizen from the July 8, 2004 issue of the Renegade Writer Newsletter.

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I have a new resolution (warning: salty language coming up): To be less half-assed about my writing. I tend to rush through assignments so that I can get out the door to do things I'd rather be doing, such as kicking bags at the karate dojo or hanging out with my friends. The articles aren't bad, of course -- otherwise my editors wouldn't keep hiring me -- but they could be better. For example, I could include a subtitle (called a "dek" in journo-speak), a sidebar or two, and an annotated copy of the manuscript for the fact checker (without being asked first!). I could also fact-check my own articles with my sources before turning it in -- something Diana does but which I never do.

If my editors are already pleased with my work, why would I want to go through so much effort? Well, my karate sensei was telling me about the Japanese concept of Kaizen -- constant improvement for the sake of improving, not because you're chasing after some reward. I really took it to heart and vowed to improve my writing, even if my editors are satisfied with the way I'm writing now. I just turned in my first article since making the resolution, to Fitness magazine. We'll see if my editor notices a difference!

If you're like me, you may also want to vow to be more thorough with your writing. When an editor asks you to mail her clips, don't "pull a Linda" and toss some black and white photocopies into an envelope -- make color copies of your clips and put them in a nice shiny folder, just like you did with your high school essays in hopes of pushing your grade up a notch or two. Don't wait for the fact checker to ask you to send an annotated copy with backup info -- do it right away. You can even throw in a sidebar or two using materials you gleaned from your research that doesn't fit in the main article.

Until next time, may your calendar be full of assignments!

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Comments:
Rockin advice!
 
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