by Maisie Smith on January 8, 2015
“I really want to shake things up.”
Best seven words ever.
When a client says this phrase, it means that I get to roll up my sleeves, break into my drawer full of metaphorical finger paints and start slinging some gnarly shit up onto the blank slate in front of me.
I call it creative writing.
(And it’s not always about unicorns with jetpacks or squirrels that can talk.)
Creative writing for business is simply storytelling that pushes past the safe and orderly boundaries of everyday writing… beyond the stale, beyond the dull. It unleashes possibilities and ignites the imagination.
Creative writing inspires others.
To stand out. To be original. To defy convention in exceptional ways. To be weird.
(Ever notice how weird + creativity go hand in hand?)
It’s a word that scares us. It cracks open the door just enough to allow our vulnerable bits and pieces to fly out into the face of the world. What will people think? Am I too weird? Not weird enough? A poser? A total asshole?
Here is what I know…
It’s a noisy world that we live in. (And I’m not referring to the garbage truck that came barreling through my neighborhood at 6:39 a.m. last Saturday morning.) Words are everywhere. Every-fucking-where. Cutesy content has morphed into the McDonald’s of the soul, filling us up without providing much value. Advice is being lobbed at us from all directions.
This is why creative writing is crucial for your business. You must stand out. You must be different.
I can hear the resistance now. “I love the idea of weird. I want our content to be unique. But I don’t want our CEO turned into the lollipop king of an enchanted realm where birds walk and people fly.”
If we were in the 4th grade, that would be so incredibly badass.
But we aren’t playing tetherball at recess anymore. Kind of sad, right? We’ve been thrust into a world of eating our kids’ cereal for dinner and figuring out health insurance premiums, a world where things like bottom line, ROI and client retention keep us up at night.
Making a living is just as important as making a difference.
Know this… creative writing doesn’t always mean silly writing. You can be weird and proficient at the same time. Creativity isn’t about wearing mismatched socks and dreaming about living in a yurt on Jupiter.
It’s about breaking free from the way things are normally done. It’s about embracing possibilities.
Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, once said:
What if you created a business memoir that gave an insider’s scoop into your industry, your company and the stories that built it? What if you wrote a chapter a week? What if you read every chapter as part of a video series, a la Bedtime Stories for Businesses?
What if you integrated your business, employees and customers into a series of stories, complete with character development and a strong narrative? What if each week, your People checked-in to see what happened to your favorite client, Mary Waffenschmidt? (Will she finally tell her bootlicker of a boss off?)What if you styled it into a storybook format (complete with hand-drawn illustrations)?
What if you created a weekly interview series that asked smart questions of your clients, employees and other professionals in industries complementary to yours? What if you compiled their wisdom into an entertaining story format?
What if you gave expert advice for real-world problems in a weekly column called “How I’d Fix the World” or “How to Make Shit Happen in 10 Minutes?”
What if you told stories on Twitter, 140 characters at a time?
What if you were known for offering business advice in the form of a Haiku?
What if you wrote a kickass blog post, left it unfinished and then provided space for your readers to decide how it ends?
Never were two words slung together with more capacity to inspire than these.