Sometimes it's a struggle to figure out what's the best thing to say.
You're writing a heading, the first sentence of an email, the introduction to a newsletter, a short description on a homepage.
But what should you say? When you have just a few words, what's the best message?
One of the ways I employ to help me with this task is to first weed out what I DON'T want to say.
I'll write a number of different opening sentences for an email, for instance. Then I'll start hacking away at the ones that don't carry the right message, or that carry the right message badly.
Knowing you're going to cut away the bad versions, it's easy to start a flow of different lines. You're not under pressure to make every line brilliant, because you know that most will be discarded.
This process also applies a very useful discipline; it makes you write down a large number of different lines, different options.
This, in itself, is a good thing.
Far too often, particularly when under the pressure of deadlines, we make do with the first opening that jumps to mind. Unless you are a full-time genius, that first thought is unlikely to be the best one.
Listing, and then eliminating copy lines makes you think. It makes you stop and really consider what it is you really should be saying.
Better still, it makes you self-critical and more determined to deliver the best line possible.
Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.