Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. – Albert Einstein
I’ve been thinking about writing some marketing copy – and when it comes to doing something or finding a way to procrastinate – I find myself usually doing the second.
Why do something when you can read about how to do it instead?
You could just sit down and write something… but would it be any good?
What is it that makes a piece of writing or an idea interesting?
A book called The lively art of writing by Lucile Vaughan Payne caught my eye as I thought about this – and it has an interesting central idea.
Here’s the thing that Payne asks you to sear into your brain.
“All writing is the sound of one voice speaking, and all writing can be heard.”
Good writing – the kind of writing that works – makes you sit up and listen.
And that’s because when you read you actually hear the words – writing is simply a magical way to capture the words someone says in letters, where they stay until you release them by speaking them to yourself.
Good writing is a conversation between the writer and the reader.
If you forget this – if you write for an audience, for a market, for a group – then what you come up with is probably something else – a bland lecture perhaps, a list of things, meaningless prose.
It’s about as satisfying, Payne writes, “as a conversation with a wall.”
If you want an example of this kind of writing just take a look at the stuff I was writing back in 2016.
Now, I’m not saying that what I’m doing now is an example of what good looks like.
But, I gave myself ten years and a million words to get the hang of how to do it and I’m three and a bit years in and at 770,986 words – 70% of which are in this blog.
And all I want to be able to do is write simply and clearly, in a way that makes it easy for you to read.
And why would anyone want to do this?
Well, I suppose it’s because words matter – they shape the way we think and see, and what we see and think shapes our words.
For example, Charles Faulkner, in a TEDx talk, shows you how people react to words viscerally, instinctively.
He pours salt into two containers, and then turns them around.
One is labelled salt, the other cyanide.
Most people, you included, would probably avoid the bottle labelled cyanide, even though you saw both being filled from the same source.
Just like right now on supermarket shelves the one beer you can be confident of still finding is Corona.
Faulkner says that knowledge isn’t enough, quoting Einstein.
You have to be able to imagine, because that’s what pulls you forward, what creates something new.
Knowledge is all about what you know already – and it can be really quite dull.
Imagination, on the other hand, is vibrant and exciting, and it’s fuelled with words and story.
So, if you need to write some marketing copy for your service why not try asking yourself this.
How would you tell your best friend about what you do?
Did they get it?
And if they did – begin with those words and the chances are that you’re off to a good start.