Writers and Reality: Guerilla Tactics for Psychic Survival

Writers have been underappreciated since the beginning of time. I could write you a long history, but I would rather spend a post or two telling you some funny but true stories from the business battlefield.

Pissing on the Page

A writer friend of mine was dealing with an extremely difficult client. He tore every draft she gave him to shreds, forcing her to spend hours painstakingly making tons of tiny revisions to satisfy this madman.

Then one afternoon, just by chance, she handed him a draft in which she had inadvertently left a typo. The next morning, to her surprise, he handed her back her draft and congratulated her on doing great work. He hadn’t touched a word, except to correct the single typo.

From then on, she always left a single mistake in her copy – and he always praised her and handed her drafts back untouched with only the single mistake corrected. She referred to this as his compulsive need to “piss on the page,” and it’s a strategy I’ve used successfully over the years in many variations.

Time Heals All Wounds

I once worked for a writer-manager who understood guerilla tactics. One day she and I were called into the office of the Director of Sales who spent about fifteen minutes telling us what a dreadful datasheet I had written for his new product and that it was “absolutely the worst” datasheet he had ever seen.

My manager, who had read the draft before I submitted it, came out of the director’s office and told me to be patient. Two weeks later, we resubmitted the datasheet, and we were again called into the director’s office. With a huge smile on his face, he told us that he had no idea what we did, but we had managed to produce the best datasheet he had ever read and congratulated us wholeheartedly.

We had not changed a single word.

Honey, I Shrank the Type

As I gained experience, I learned to pull these tricks myself. One day I produced a short paper introducing a new product, and left it on our recently appointed Director of Marketing’s desk.  He came to me a few hours later, and told me the paper was absolutely unacceptable because it was much too long.

I read the paper over, and realized it was about as short as I could make it and still do justice to the subject, so I used the magic of word processing to shrink the type and resubmitted the paper. Another hour later he came back to me and told me what a great job I had done and that the paper was now perfect – and exactly the right size!

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About Regina Domeraski

I am a writer and have been for as long as I can remember. I worked as a technical writer and now a marketing writer for high-tech companies, but my interests go far beyond technology and include writing as an art and a craft, creativity, film, classical music, and the mystery genre (after all, Hamlet is a murder mystery).
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