Few things are as core to my identity as writing. Yet lately I’ve been proven wrong, over and over, about my writing intuition.
I see now that with so many things, practice isn’t enough. Don’t repeat my mistakes, which began 2 months ago.
Two months ago, I hired a writer (hi, Brian!). We spoke the same language about business and saw eye-to-eye about how AwayFind can help people. I was quite excited to work together.
Even more, Brian is not just a writer. Brian is a 15 year direct marketing veteran, a thinker, and someone who more than deserves his Director of Marketing title. But I’ve still never hired someone who I disagreed with so often and so thoroughly.
But he pushed. So we tested and gathered feedback. I was nearly universally wrong.
Now, Brian and I are different. Different is fine. But what was tough for me is that when I read some of his suggestions I thought, "No, that simply won’t work." It wasn’t a "no, that’s not me" it was a flat out, "This won’t work, because of x, y, and z."
You see, my writing is no accident. I can explain clearly why I chose one path or another, and why I strongly object to certain suggestions.
And yet I was wrong. Consistently (okay, mostly consistently ; ). With something I thought I understood.
I’m so glad for this experience (which is continuing, of course). Even beyond its impact on my own writing, it helps me to see what our users, and people generally, value and appreciate. And the bigger lesson here is not about writing: it’s that our assumptions about even our greatest perceived strengths may be wrong.
For a parallel—consider playing a musical instrument. It takes both practice and technique. One will certainly have to practice to attain proficiency…but without the proper technique it’s impossible to achieve the highest success. We fundamentally understand this about music.
But in the rest of life we assume that enough practice will lead to success. But technique is still hugely important. We need to open up to the possibility that maybe our own technique—or at least our intuition–isn’t quite what we thought.
Consider your best strengths. Then put your ego aside and really consider how differing approaches work, or be more objective in how you see its real impact.
When something so fundamentally different from your own (thought-out) perspective enters your world, perhaps you’re the one who needs to reconsider.