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Diamonds aren’t a writer’s best friend

Posted by Dan Hatch on 16th March , 2021 in The Write Fit
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This is an excerpt from the 39th edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.


When I was a proper working journalist, there was a motto I convinced myself I lived by: “No pressure, no diamonds.”

The gist of the expression is that without being exposed to extreme pressure, carbon will never turn into something as rare, spectacular, and highly prized as a diamond. What I meant by it was I needed a bit of pressure — the stress of a hard deadline, for example — to create my best work.

What a load of horses*** that was.

Good writing doesn’t require a deadline. The business of publishing requires a deadline. What good writing requires is the writer to have:

  • Time to write
  • Good time-management skills
  • A dose of inspiration
  • Commitment.

JRR Tolkien took 12 years to write The Lord of the Rings. Margaret Mitchell took a decade to write Gone with the Wind. Michael Crichton took eight years to write Jurassic Park.

Sometimes, the writing that’s going to become a cultural touchstone, or win a Pulitzer Prize or make you a millionaire, can take a little time.

Let’s apply this idea to our content marketing

And it’s the same for your content marketing. The more time and effort you put into any piece of content, the better it will be.

Content isn’t the new kid on the marketing block anymore. Basically everyone is creating and publishing content online now. There’s tonnes of the stuff out there and a lot of it absolute crap. And it’s not working anymore.

And we know it’s not working because Sarah and I, and our friends at Mantis Research, are busy finalising our State of Writing Report 2021 — and we have the evidence in front of us, in black and white.

Seventy per cent of our respondents said they were either not, or only somewhat, satisfied with the performance of their written content over the past 12 months. We asked Doug Kessler, Creative Director and Co-founder at Velocity Partners, what he made of this.

“My guess is that people are just NOT working at it – they’re doing it but not consciously trying to improve,” he said.

Folks, it’s time to improve.

If you haven’t already, switch your focus to quality. Produce less, but make whatever you produce matter.

And the first step is giving yourself the space to create quality. Because you know what? It doesn’t just take pressure to make diamonds; it takes time, too.

Dan Hatch
16 March 2021


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