So, writing is part of my job. I’ve found that writing for business-related purposes is often a real exercise in futility.
For example, recently I was asked to write a summary of our company and its services. I was given a competitor’s website as a sample and told, “write something like that.” Obey kaybee. So, with their basic content as an example, I re-wrote ours in a similar – but not identical – manner.
The manager sent it back. “I thought I mentioned that I wanted ours to sound like theirs.” Well yeah, you did, but see the problem is that I sound like me. So, today, I created a 2-column table with their text on one side and my draft of our company’s on the other. I tried to make it as identical as possible without blatant plagiarism. Not easy – even with a thesaurus.
Here is my skinny on this: We are competing companies. Why do you want to sound like someone else? Find a unique way of stating the same thing without sounding like the same thing. Find a creative way of phrasing it that sets us APART from our competition. Right?
I had the same problem working for another company in Kuwait years ago. They were an IT company and wanted it to sound as packed with jargon as humanly possible. They wanted more network-y, out-of-the-box (but still in-the-box) words. Give me a break. Keep it simple, stupid.
We want you, but we want it to sound less like you. Huh?
One time, I was at a McDonald’s in Virginia with my nephew who was quite young at the time. I was watching him play from the sidelines, sitting with parents of the other kids. A man next to me struck up a conversation, “Which one is yours?” I said, ‘No, I’m here with my nephew. I don’t have kids.’ He said, “What do you do for a living?” I said, ‘I’m a technical writer.’ (That was then.) He responded with something so wise that I have remembered it all this time, “Oh.. you have kids. You have LOTS of kids. How many engineers do you work with?”
Everybody has an opinion and they all think theirs is the best way to do something. So, if you don’t like the way I do it, why don’t you put your own words down or edit what I have given you instead of just handing it back and saying, “Write something else.” What IS “else”? It is very vague and general, don’t you think? ... and a real pain in the ass.