I don’t usually obsess over my work. I write; I edit; I send, or as Seth Godin puts it, “ship.” No problem.
It’s easy to ship when you know the reaction will be favorable. I just signed my fifth or sixth annual contract with my main client. I know they love me and respect my work, and even if I should happen to fall short on an assignment (hasn’t happened yet, but you never know…) or try something a little too off-the-wall for them, I trust they’ll give me the benefit of the doubt: They know what I’m capable of.
Absent that warm reassurance, shipping turns out to be not so easy. Case in point, the Test Speech.
A prospective client recently offered me the opportunity to be one of several speechwriters creating a speech for the same event. All of us would get paid, but only one of us would win a new client.
It’s nerve-wracking enough to write for a new client when you get to meet the speaker (or at least the communications team) first, talk about their expectations for the speech, and ask questions. It’s even more nerve-wracking to write for someone you’ve never met and never heard speak – they wouldn’t even send me written copies of the guy’s speeches! And although they sent me a detailed outline, I found I disagreed with it at several points (I think that was part of the test), so the speech I turned in was not the speech they were expecting.
They gave me a week to complete the assignment; I did it in six days. And the last day or day and a half was just pure obsessing. Is this word right? Could that be said just a little better? I finally gave myself a stern talking-to and just pushed Send.
The good news is, once the speech was gone, so was my obsession. Even better news, I aced the test and won myself a new client.
I can’t wait to meet him.