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Writing vs. Have-Written

My favorite college professor, who I have mentioned before, taught a class in sports journalism. Not surprisingly, this class was very writing-intensive, with no real tests or exams, just writing assignments, articles, and feature stories. I probably wrote 20 different pieces that semester, from short 400-word news articles to a 5,000-word feature that served as our final exam.

So it may be surprising that my professor used to talk about how much he HATED writing. Before his unfortunate death just a few weeks ago, he wrote five books, not to mention hundreds of articles during his 18 years at Sports Illustrated. But still, he hated writing.

Now, once he explained what he meant, it made much more sense — and I agreed with him wholeheartedly.

“I really despise writing,” he used to say. “But there’s no feeling better than the feeling of have-written.”

Simply, he agonized over his computer (and typewriter in the early days), procrastinating, stalling, and making himself sick trying to find the right combination of words. But the reason he loved writing was not the actual process of writing, but the feeling of “Have-written,” that satisfaction and pride that comes with seeing a finished product.

I couldn’t agree more. Whether it was a column or feature story during my newspaper days, or a video script or page of search engine optimized content during my time as an advertising copywriter here at DDA, the actual process of writing can sometimes be agonizing. Changing a word here or there, never quite settling on a tone, rewriting the same paragraph multiple times. But looking at a completed section, or seeing a page I have written “go live” on the Internet is satisfying enough to make it worthwhile.

This idea could apply to anyone in the working world, and especially here at a full-service advertising agency like DDA.

I’m sure Laurence and the video specialists downstairs don’t especially love the tedious editing and frame-by-frame review that they do every day. I assume Jess and the SEO specialists sometimes grow tired of inserting meta tags and keywords into web sites via our SureThing™ Optimization program. And I’m sure matching frame after frame of animation can be a little monotonous for Vinnie and the animators.

But every time a finished video looks just as it should, a client’s website reaches the front page of Google, or a completed animation makes someone go, “Oh, wow!”, everyone who worked to finish that task gets that feeling of satisfaction that makes them love their jobs.

Which reminds me, it’s time to get back to writing, so I can feel that “have-written” feeling a few more times before the day’s done.

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Entry by: Steve


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