When I first started writing professionally I felt really confident in my writing abilities. I’d already been a writer with a masters in creative writing for almost 20 years. I’d published, edited, and taught writing at high schools, universities, and on an international academic stage. I was ready.
So it surprised me just how much editing feedback I got from clients. On one hand, I thought I’d done a good job finding just the right words and weaving and sculpting them in just the right way. On the other hand, my ego thought they should defer a little more to my professional expertise (*roll eyes here*).
In some client organisations, I’d get feedback from 10 or 20 people, much of it contradictory. Faaark.
I’d spend hours sculpting and polishing after the initial drafts. My confidence started to waver. Why couldn’t I get it right?
Well, I gotta tell you, that didn’t last long. I started sculpting and polishing less and less. Each time I’d write and submit work to a client, I’d invest a little less time to that last, wordsmithing stage.
And guess what? I still got the same amount of feedback. EXACTLY. THE. SAME.
You know why?
Language is subjective. Humans are fickle. We’re individuals. With our own experiences, biases, perceptions, values, all of it.
What that means for you and me when we write?
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT.
YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE.
No matter how much time I spend trying to find the perfect word or shimmery turn of phrase, someone will think there’s a different way to say it. They’ll think there’s a better way to say it.
Write purposefully, planned, and with a strong lens for clarity and your reader’s needs. Follow that with a strong plain language edit and a final proofread. Any minutes and hours you spend beyond that are likely to give you a low (if any) return on your investment of time and effort.
You can’t please everyone. Write what works for the majority, know people will always have ideas about alternative ways to say/write it, and move on. You’ve got plenty on your to-do list, right?