Like baking a cake and decorating it, writing and editing are two separate but complementary stages that both need to be mastered to gain your audience’s attention and affinity.
I recently ran into my kids watching a cake decorating contest. I couldn’t tell you which one, or what channel or streaming service it was on.
But I stopped to chat with them, and sure enough, I ended up watching this show with them for about ten minutes. The show was a classic cake decorating contest where contestants had to bake a cake and then decorate it. Contestants are ultimately judged on the taste and appearance of their cakes.
Watching the show, I realized there were some interesting parallels between cake decorating contests and the process lawyers go through when they write and edit their writing, especially their thought leadership marketing and content. business development.
(I certainly didn’t expect to find inspiration for a blog post by watching the show, but hey, I’ll get inspiration where I can find it.)
Here are four lessons that cake decorating contests can teach lawyers (and their marketing colleagues) about the relationship between writing and editing legal marketing and business development content.
Lesson number 1: Just as baking and decorating are two separate stages, so are writing and editing
In a cake decorating contest, you cannot decorate a cake while it is baking. It obviously needs to be baked before it can be decorated. Baking and decorating are two separate steps. The same goes for writing and editing.
When writing marketing and business development content, such as thought leadership content, lawyers should not edit until they have finished writing a complete first draft. They need to focus their writing on paper (or, probably more likely, on screen) all the information they want to incorporate into their document, organize it, make sure their writing presents that information in a cohesive, logical way , structured. manner, and that what is written speaks to the issues and concerns of their target audience.
After writing a first draft, they have to file it for a while. The time will depend on how far ahead of their deadline they are. Once this time has elapsed, it is then time to start editing.
At this point, when they get their draft back, it’s time to edit it by going back into the document, checking if it runs smoothly from start to finish. Is the grammar correct? How is the style and readability? Does each paragraph flow into the next? Does each section flow into the next? Does the introduction tell the reader precisely the direction in which the document will go? Does the conclusion flow naturally from the rest of the document?
Writing and editing should be two separate phases, just like baking and decorating. When we edit while we write, we stifle our creativity. We’re starting to get derailed because we’re focusing on the finished product when we should just be focusing on building the product, making sure we cover all the points we want to make and want our audience to take away from the product eventual finish.
Lesson number 2: Baking and decorating, like writing and editing, are both necessary for a successful outcome
In a cake decorating contest, contestants must bake a cake so they can be judged on its taste, and they must decorate the cake so they can be judged on the decorations. Then, after receiving points for both, they hope to win the competition. It’s the same with writing and editing. Both steps are necessary.
You’re probably thinking, “Well, yes, you have to write to create a written document.” But when it comes to creating marketing and business development content, like thought leadership content, many lawyers tend to skimp on thoughtful editing and just skim through their drafts for style and the grammar.
It’s a shortened version of the kind of writing that lawyers (and their marketing colleagues) should be doing. As I mentioned in the first lesson above, editing should be an expansive process that examines structure and readability. And it’s a necessary process to create compelling thought leadership content that actually resonates with readers because the content is enjoyable to read and easy to digest.
Lesson number 3: Improper baking or decorating, such as poor writing or editing, can negatively affect the entire project
In a cake decorating contest, if a contestant is mistaken when baking a cake, either because it tastes bad or because the cake lacks the structural integrity to support other layers of cake during the decorating phase, this will be a problem. it could ruin their chances of winning the competition.
Likewise, even if a contestant has baked the most wonderful tasting cake, if he messed up the decorations, it will also be a problem for the whole project.
So it is about writing and editing.
No matter how well a lawyer does to compile interesting information and organize it on the writing side of the equation, if their editing isn’t good, the document will look dull.
If their document is a 2000-word article conveying thoughts and ideas that could have been communicated in 1200 words, it is an editing issue that will negatively affect the quality of the document.
If the document covers its subject well, but there is no structure, there is no unifying theme, the intro does not flow into the body, and the body does not flow into the conclusion is additional editing issues that will negatively affect the quality of the document.
Likewise, the best editor can’t improve on a bad write. If the substance of a document is not suitable for the audience for which it is intended, or if the document does not adequately describe the ins and outs of a subject, or if the document does not explain an aspect of the subject that the public must understand understand the topic of the document, the writing will not pass the mark even if the editor can make the document pleasant to read.
Lesson Number 4: Just as contestants are judged on both baking and decorating, lawyers will be judged by their audience on their writing and editing.
In the cake decorating contest I watched, contestants were judged on the flavor of their cakes and the decorations on their cakes. If a cake tasted good, but had crappy decorations, the good was countered by the bad. If a cake tasted bad but had nice decorations, again, the good was countered by the bad. No matter how good or bad each individual component was, baking and decorating together was what contestants were ultimately judged on.
So it’s fine, again, with writing and editing.
No matter how complete or catchy a lawyer’s writing is, if it doesn’t read well from start to finish due to poor editing, the public won’t think the document is worth reading. be read, which of course will have a negative impact on the author. . And, if the document is well-edited, has no punctuation errors, and has a nice style and structure, but the substance is full of filler and fluff and brings no value to the audience, the result will be the same: a disappointed public.
With Writing and Editing, You Gotta Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Before I saw my kids watch a cake decorating contest show, I wouldn’t have thought there were any similarities between cake decorating contests and writing and editing, especially writing and publishing legal marketing and business development content. But still, here we are.
Writing and editing are separate but mandatory tasks that both need to be done well when creating legal marketing and business development content, like thought leadership content. Just like baking and decorating in a cake decorating contest, failure to write and edit well will kill a lawyer’s chances of winning the prize: being seen, through their content, as a authority in the areas of law they practice by their target audience.