Dad worked as a machine operator, not a marketing content writer. His hobbies include snowmobiling and rebuilding vintage cars. Writing and all disciplines considered artistically creative lay outside his toolbox.
His neat, all caps penned words appear only in the form of lists and scratched figures for plan calculations. Stories cross his path in the form of biographies he reads from time to time. And, poems only interest him when written by one of his four children or especially by one of his 16 grandchildren.
Yet, he poured into me lessons which boldly impact my work as a marketing content writer. Not because he expresses them in writing or even verbally but because he lives them. And, I create stronger written works as I incorporate and practice them.
I wonder if these lessons might just inspire you to greater content as well.
Stick With It
Dad believes in loyalty to your work and to people. Difficulties offer no excuse to head in a new direction or give up altogether. Even if you fall or fail, the saying was and is to pick yourself up, dust off and give it another go (or, get back on the horse).
Tough Times, Tough Work
When times got tough at home, it simply meant the work got tougher (and, so did you). Even for the creative and skilled, curating content runs into snags. At times, a work fails or I do. Writer’s block, unclear orders, lack of information to research, sticky partnerships and more turn the joy of writing into frustration or worse.
But, it is in these times that Dad’s lessons apply:
- Do not give up. Persevere when assignments grow wearying.
- Ask for help when you are stuck or do not understand.
- Take a break to wipe your tears and get back to it, even in the face of failure.
Your Words, Your Honor
Dad teaches that a date on the calendar is a commitment. And, in our home you honored commitments. Even if something “better” came along, you did not break plans with one person for another. And, deadlines were to be met. If you committed to do or be somewhere, you gave all-out effort to honor your word.
These lessons offer great benefit to the work of a writer (or, any other profession actually):
- Honor people. Time given to them should not be revoked or rearranged unless absolutely necessary. This includes bosses, colleagues and clients.
- Your word as your commitment builds a reputation of integrity. Protect it.
- Meet deadlines and other expectations to the best of your ability.
When working on a project, Dad models hard work with breaks scheduled. No random stops for texting or phone calls (easier when the home phone is the only one ringing). Even bathroom breaks were questionable. It seems science backs up this philosophy.
In Your Work
Studies prove that multitasking depletes productivity. In other words, focused work produces greater results. With Dad, working hard and completing a project leaves space to celebrate a day of hard work when the day is done.
For instance, when clearing brush from the family grape vineyard, the motivation to set aside all distractions came in the promise to ride those same vineyards on ATVs afterward. The completion of yard work was met with a trip to Sportshaven, a local ice cream shop.
In content writing, Dad’s lessons bring great value:
- Set aside the cell phone and focus on writing alone for greater (and better) word count.
- Write in the quiet parts, even fringes of the day when kids are otherwise occupied and the mind is fresh.
- Set small rewards as motivation, incentives earned for time well spent in work.
To Your Goals
In the tyranny of the urgent, we lose sight of our goals. For years of my upbringing, a car sat (in parts) covered in a tarp in our small garage. When asked about it, Dad said it was a car he would restore one day. The state of the car and the passing of time made us chuckle at the thought. But, a beautifully restored, award-winning ’55 Ford Thunderbird sits in the garage today.
On the way to writing or other goals, Dad reminds me:
- Know your long-range goals and keep them in your sights.
- Set a plan and move in that direction one step at a time.
- While minor detours may be necessary, avoid getting stuck or derailed by the seemingly urgent.
Liar, liar pants on fire was not only a common childhood saying. In Dad’s home, it meant something. Tell a lie and feel the heat in the seat of your pants. And, Dad lives this integrity as well. Just tell it like it is. Be honest.
Growing up, there was little room for “I don’t know” answers when it came to self-awareness. Figure it out and get back to him seemed Dad’s philosophy (although asking for help was always an option). Plus, Dad models personal and social awareness and management which allow him to function well in both areas.
It seems Dad lives the research of Harvard University, Travis Bradberry and the like without reading their material. Emotional intelligence links with success in a writing career or any other facet of life. It proves a key in success (even in Dad’s success).
And, Dad’s example lays the foundation for me in this as a marketing content writer:
- Know yourself, your motivations, strengths and weaknesses, goals and dreams.
- Work in your strengths. Do not inflate your abilities. Remain humble.
- If you do not know something, find out through research or asking others.
The truth is sometimes hard to express to others. But, Dad is not afraid to say it when needed. And, lies are not an option. Others deserve your honesty. Straightforward in his thinking, he respects others but expresses concern as appropriate.
Dad teaches me to be honest in all interactions:
- Write the truth. Readers desire it and respect it.
- Engage in the hard conversations when required to improve relationships with colleagues and clients.
- Honor your word to colleagues, clients and readers.
Choose Words Wisely
My father is a man of few words. While Mom makes up for his lack of conversation, Dad speaks when necessary. But, the wisdom in this bears out as his words rarely get him in sticky situations, fail to be misunderstood and are often heard. Noble qualities for my life and writing.
Beating Around the Bush
Dad believes in getting to the point. No need for long-winded conversations. While you may picture a blunt, offensive man, he is neither rude nor hurtful in his expressions. It just is as it is.
In working with colleagues and clients, Dad’s lessons ring true:
- Do not fear the truth. But, be kind and straightforward in expressing it.
- Evasiveness only causes greater confusion.
- Get to the point in conversation and when writing.
Saying What You Mean
The benefit of using fewer words is that you say what you mean and mean what you say. There is no space for clearing up the vague or including trite phrases (unless they powerfully make your point). When Dad speaks, others are more likely to listen and act. His words impact due to their meaning and rarity.
Using these lessons in content writing means:
- Be clear. Choose language which readers understand.
- Keep stories short and draw out the meaning.
- Focus on a singular point or message (related to your goals).
Just Enough and Nothing More
With Dad flowery words and detailed descriptors are left behind. He says just enough to get his point across. Plus, he has no patience for exaggerated stories, speculation, gossip and drama. In other words, there is no need to share such things, even among family confidants.
The usefulness of these points to writing is revealed in this:
- Write concisely and inform with every sentence.
- Remember the power in fewer words.
- Gossip and drama are hurtful. Exaggeration irritates. Avoid engaging in them at all cost.
Learn About the World
Dad’s thirst to learn of the world around him stands out boldly. Whether understanding how to best tend to grape vines or visiting a mock pioneer homestead, Dad continually gathers information on what life was and is like.
Dad’s travels are simple as is his work. From truck and tractor pulls to the Henry Ford Museum, from vintage car shows to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, Dad explores varying sides of life. And, these experiences deepen the meaning of his days. Plus, while not a fluent conversationalist, these ventures give him topics to turn into engaging dialogue.
To be honest, in my preference for hermit-dom, I need to adopt this lesson more fully (for the benefit of my life and my writing). Developing writing skills through experience looks like this:
- No matter how busy life gets, make time for hobbies.
- Travel as you are able and see unique places.
- Attend local activities and events in a wide variety of interests.
Through Facts and Trivia
To this day, Dad still reads the paper with his cup of coffee. Front to back, he pours over the stories, not just certain sections. Biographies, non-fiction and fiction form his reading list. And, watching the news keeps this born-and-raised farm boy informed, a master of Trivial Pursuit.
Facts and trivia, knowledge of the world makes writers interesting and well-informed. (Again, I need to adopt this lesson more fully myself.) A few hints from Dad’s example do so:
- Read. Read. Read.
- Keep up with the news.
- Watch good television and movies.
To look back over the nearly 70 years of Dad’s life, work ethic rises to the top of his character traits. However, the daily smile on his face reveals that he holds the secret to savoring life. Work hard, yes. But, enjoy it all in the process.
The Little Things
Dad is a quiet man of tall stature with large, work-scarred hands. Curiously, his observation of the world around him is keen and childlike. He marvels at the hummingbird or the antics of the squirrels as they thieve his birdseed (They have quite the Roadrunner-Wiley Coyote relationship). Even in work, Dad pauses to marvel at the simple and unexpected.
Noticing the little things births stories that run common threads between us as humans. For writers, these observations fill the mind with childlike enthusiasm, themes and ways to connect with readers. Dad teaches me to:
- Slow down to notice the little things in life, even in the midst of work.
- Schedule time for rest which rejuvenates the mind and ability to see.
- Enjoy work for what it is, what it produces and the ache of the body afterward.
The Big Things
One of Dad’s current hobbies comes from enjoying his grandchildren. To hear their stories and listen to their laughter delight him. A hardworking man brought still for the relationships in his life speaks boldly of their value.
Furthermore, Dad continues to model the importance of serving others. If a family member needs a new roof or gets stuck on the road, Dad and his tools are on the way. If a friend needs help with a project, his hands are willing to work. This one distraction he allows to interrupt his plans.
How does this even apply to a writing deadline? Powerfully. A focus on relationships strengthens the ability to write in many ways:
- Know the people you write for and their interests. How can you be relevant otherwise?
- Write for the reader, not the sake of spinning creative words.
- Serve others with entertainment, information and solutions rather than your bottom line alone.
A Good Marketing Content Writer Hits the Heart
While he works hard throughout the day, Dad loves a good television program or movie (another way to take in the world?). And, he certainly enjoys a good ad. The rating of the Super Bowl’s infamous commercials became a yearly ritual in our home. And, Dad’s laughter or verbal disappointment let you know how he ranked each one.
Marketing entertains. Super Bowl commercial viewership even outside my home illustrates this fact. And, the works which get the highest ratings from Dad (and, many others) are the ones with heart, a human connection.
This is valuable insight for marketing content writers. Take note:
- Watch the work of other writers for inspiration.
- Include wit and humor to engage audiences.
- Keep it simple and include the human component to be memorable.
If you struggle to produce content with heart, our marketing content writers are ready to give you a hand. Serving our clients with text which speaks to them and their readers is our goal.
Give us a call today for a free consultation.
P.S. I strayed a bit from a traditional post with this blog. As my children grow and leave the nest at a seemingly rapid rate, I find myself nostalgic and reflective. My hope as I write is that this piece still offers valuable information to you.
Please comment below as to what you found useful or a writing lesson you learned from your dad.