“WOW Craig!!! Are you kidding me that you wrote this yourself? You are an awesome writer.
It’s interesting that you are good at numbers and writing … apparently its two sides of the brain.”; said, a connection on LinkedIn after reading my article, “Finally, Ownership!!.”
Similar reactions came in response to letters written by Libby and I, from our mission in Africa. We spent 10.5 months there serving a mission. We shared our experiences by writing 45 letters (23 by me) and sharing them with about 100 friends and family.
My younger self would say otherwise. I hated English. I hated writing. I hated expressing myself. Rumor has it I didn’t speak until I was four. The truth of this is still debatable.
Elementary school days were full of writing assignments including book reports, pretend stories, and real-life stories. But it really didn’t matter, I struggled to express my own thought both verbally and in writing.
In seventh grade I stood in front of my English class to recite an 11-line poem from memory. Nothing came out, I couldn’t even remember the first word.
At BYU, I was in my second go around of ECON 110. I recall going to the lab to pick up my latest written paper assignment. My next younger brother had finished the class the previous semester, but had left his paper in the filing cabinet. I of course, read his paper and all I could think was, this is bad.
My first professional job, as an auditor at KPMG, required little writing. Short explanations and brief justifications were the extent of it. Email was not common, so most communication was verbal. If I was a writer, this job wasn’t much proof.
The only writing feedback I ever received at KPMG was manager notes either agreeing or disagreeing with my logic. I did advance to manager and increased my writing opportunities but it was still limited to financial statement foot notes and engagement proposal letters. Nothing to “write” home about.
My second professional job at SymbolArts included overseeing marketing and sales. I tasked the marketing manager to create marketing plans, and implement advertising campaigns, and write ad copy to improve marketing communication. This sort of writing required stories, descriptive language, and emotion, a far cry from the technical writing of public accounting.
The marketing manager developed a great plan centered around old-time police images of motorcycles, uniforms, and badges, supplied to us from a historical police department back east. She tried to evoke emotion from the past and connect it with our present products. The campaign was a success, the ads were beautiful and helped us become known as one of the top 3 badge companies in the US.
But her written copy and content were points of disagreement between myself and her. I was critical of the flowery and fluffy she often used and often rewrote the content.
She once said to me, we just have different styles.
2008 began the era of PinProsPlus. Communication was almost exclusively email. Respond to quote requests, explain the technical details of pins in layman terms, and communicate with frustrated customers.
I had to think fast and write fast. It became a trademark so to speak. I learned to write in such a way to lead the customer to a decision.
Erol, my long-time artist, would occasionally involve me with a challenging customer. Usually that meant an indecisive customer who was stuck in a revision pattern.
I would tactfully encourage them to finalize the artwork with words like “we know you are trying to get the artwork just perfect.” And, “artwork is costly, so we normally offer 3 free revisions.” Or, “we are happy to offer you one more free revision before we have to charge.” And finally, “take a look at the current design, and find everything you want to change and let us take care of it, and then we can get things ordered.”
Erol, a great verbal communicator in his own right, often praised my writing and tact in handling these situations.
In 2018, I began engaging on LinkedIn, a platform, many thought was just for finding a job. But what I realized as I began engaging and following people is, there was talent on LinkedIn. I observed, and learned about the 1300-character limit for a written post. I learned about spacing and one-line paragraphs to make it more enticing to read. I learned about hooking the reader in the first line. And, I learned to tell my story.
Laura Riley, a writer, the first to catch my attention had a slogan, “Keep it Simple Avoid the Fluff”. It spoke to me. I never contracted with her, but I learned valuable technique reading her content. I learned that investment of time helps produce great writing.
James Bliwas, was a writer. An older gentleman from Canada. He had a long history of writing in the legal world. He caught my attention because of his personal stories. I called him the most interesting man in the world because he knew so many famous people in unexpected ways. He had a story for everything. I hired him to write content for the PinProsPlus website and call him a friend today.
Bill Brown, not a writer, but a retired executive for the corporate world. He wrote meaningful posts about his mentor who changed his life, because he forced Bill to change his perspective. You couldn’t help but read to the end to discover the hidden lesson.
And then there was everyone else. Thousands of people sharing ideas with seeming ease on a variety of topics. It inspired me, gave me courage and helped me begin crafting my own content. I incorporated what I was learning and my confidence and voice grew.
Early in my days at SymbolArts I traded printed communication with an owner much like me. He would rather communicate difficult conversation in writing. On more than one occasion I found a letter on my chair. I returned my response in the same way. Writing doesn’t leave room for distraction. You share your thoughts and people hear it in a single rhythm.
Over the years, I’ve learned I like to be different, not in a front and center sort of way, but in accomplishment. Not many people have run a marathon, own a business, or written a book. Having accomplished the first two, writing a book has become the next goal.
So, in 2020, having returned from serving a mission with my wife, semi-retired from day to day work, and time on my hands, I found myself writing a lot. Three websites and a personal blog require a lot of attention. But I enjoy it, because it’s my story. And I’m finding the thing that stole my confidence in youth is now giving me confidence in age.
Is writing easy? No. In fact, after a week of writing every day, I’m exhausted and admire writers, like Jim, who have written for a lifetime. They were born that way, I had to learn it.
Some may like my style, some may not. Some may like my content, some may not. But it’s not for them, it’s for me. Writing has given me a voice that took until age four to start and years of fear to overcome.
I think I am.
So, from an untrained writer, a few tips.
And most importantly….
There are different purposes in writing, mine is telling my story in small vignettes.
And, if nothing else, leaving a legacy of learning for my posterity.
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I was convinced for years I wasn't a writer - so I didn't. Now I'm older, and I have a strong desire to write - so I do. The blog Craig A Fry is my way of sharing with the world (but mostly just documenting my thoughts) things I've learned from Business, Personal Life and Spiritual Insights.
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