I can’t read minds.
I lead with this, because I’m fairly sure you can’t read minds, either. You have no idea that I was recently hired by a parent to write a cover letter, for the purpose of gaining a company internship for a young student.
In presenting my first draft, I was met with the criticism that certain intentions of the student were missing, and that she ‘thought my services as a professional writer would fix this.’
The first component of my confusion stemmed from this: she hadn’t seen my message from the previous day, asking for specific information.
The second, this: the information I had been given lacked this element entirely, and my goal was to complete that area once it had been reviewed. That’s why it was a draft.
Here’s a recurring problem I face as a freelance writer. I see my job as a conveyor of messages. You tell me what message you want to send, and I will craft a way to share it. What many don’t understand is that I can’t read minds. It’s not my place or responsibility to figure out what your message is; you need to tell me, if not what you’re trying to say, at least what you think you’re trying to say. At least a very vague description of the ballpark of what you’re trying to say. Otherwise, I should be paid a lot more than what I’m asking.
I can’t (and don’t) blame people entirely; it’s a lot like when I go to the doctor for something and am told they’ll have to run tests, or we’ll have to wait and see how I am in a few days…my first thought is to ask, “Can’t you just give me something to fix this?” because I have no medical knowledge, pharmaceutical schooling or awareness of how the human body works.
The lesson I’ve learned is that now, with any project, I need to ask for guidance with the message-bearer’s intention(s). I’ve been remiss in not doing that when the message hasn’t been inherently clear, and in a few instances have found myself laboring over trying to guess. So let’s clear the air, once and for all, with two simple questions:
First, What is the object of the game?
Second, Why do you want this to happen?
If you can’t give me answers, what you don’t need is a writer, what you need is a life coach. And believe me, you don’t want me as a life coach.
I’m much nicer as a writer.