Writing a Manifesto: When There’s More to Copy than Copy

There’s a lot of talk these days (in business & marketing) about pulling it together and putting something out there. Keeping it lean and oh well maybe it won’t be perfect.

The window is open now and your thing may never see the light of day if you don’t act with some urgency. Be good enough but don’t insist on great. Fix it up later as needed.

manifesto copy pen to zenSo, yeah, I’m having a hard time with that.

My product is mostly words. I don’t mind revising them, and I don’t set “perfection” as a benchmark in areas like us chatting here on the blog. It’s just that after delivery, I can’t have people unread or unhear me. I feel the need to represent the first time.

If you’re one of my regulars, you know I don’t believe we can define perfect marketing copy in theory.

We all have our own combinations of circumstances we must writing to, and our own audiences. But I personally can’t get behind setting the bar for my own work much lower than I would provide to others. So I’m in a tricky spot.

Is what I write a sample of my writing? Or is what I write what I mean to say?

Revealing Internal Dialogue

That’s the backdrop for internal communications copy I have had the pleasure of writing for some corporate clients. It doesn’t happen much on the entrepreneur/small business level–we all tend to do our own positioning, mission statements, mantras and so on.

As we should. I love helping solopreneurs make sure their “internal” copy is true to themselves, a promise they can make and keep because they believe in it. But they will usually do their own drafts.

When I’ve worked on this kind of copy for larger businesses, it’s usually been part of consensus-building, approval-seeking endeavors. In that way, it loses a bit of authenticity.

A company might think it means the words that are settled on, but in the end the copy is selected for show: to put on plaques in lobbies, to print on letterhead, and so on.

The use of manifestos for online business blogs seems like it could be going that way, too.

Manifesting Essential Qualities

I’ve done a fair amount of research in this area so I can help clients, and now myself, with these projects. I like what I see. Manifestos are cool.

Then looking back in history at older blueprints for this kind of writing–lists of ideals, requirements for working here, creative vision statements, and so on–I love what I see. Manifestos can be transformational.

Transformational, and yet enduring. Words you can mean. Live! Not just launch with. :-)

Still, when I read Frank Lloyd Wright’s list of assets which he felt his apprentices needed to have for work and life, versus the lululemon company manifesto which was also intended to direct the company’s culture, I feel differently about them.

Perhaps it’s unfair to compare the originals with newer interpretations. Originals do tend to win out with originality, after all.

But I feel lululemon’s version is… packaged.

I know, I know, that’s because it has been. Like, it’s actually on packages. Plus items for sale. Clever! I’m not complaining. I think this manifesto contains many lovely nuggets.

But Mr. Wright’s piece is more… personal.

And it turns out it’s more like what I wanted for myself.

No pen to ZEN Manifesto

So, I was going to create a manifesto for my business–for this website–as an example, to support my clients, but I didn’t. (At least not yet.)

Instead, I spent a good, long, rewarding time working on a personal manifesto.

Here it is below, in its raw typed form. I will try to design it somehow, soon.

It has many elements of what I would do on behalf of my business manifesto (ideals to uphold, steps to take, a vision of evolved results, beliefs and intentions)…

…but it goes beyond all that.

I share it with you here, because it shows how copywriting, like writing a manifesto, can become more than copy. And even more than writing.

It can become whatever you choose.

If you’re open to inspiration. :-)

Faith Watson’s Living Manifesto

I am always learning
I am a work in progress and I intend to keep improving
There is no limit to my possibilities
I cherish knowledge, but not as much as wisdom
Wisdom is gained through appreciation of beauty as much as struggle
Inner peace sounds good but I won’t beat myself up over achieving it
My life is blessed with constant chances to experience
so many people, situations, events and places, so fully.
Relish quiet time for solo reflection but
remember the essential powers of relationships.
I am grateful for all the people in my life, even when (and because)
they challenge me to work harder, give more, and become the highest version of myself.
Open eyes, open heart, open mind,
and when you’re not making things better, close mouth.
My purpose is to serve–I am made to share and connect with others
There is no reason to withhold my gifts or reduce my passion
I am lucky to have so much energy and strength
If others judge me, it’s about them;
If I feel wrongly judged, it’s about me.
I value thoughtfulness and consideration
I am cultivating loving kindness in each day
The importance of money is in the experiences it buys and the good you can do with it
I am not opposed to making good money
There is joy in this journey
We have nature. We have fun. We have love.
We have choices.
I choose to be inspired

2 Responses to Writing a Manifesto: When There’s More to Copy than Copy

  1. Halina Goldstein January 21, 2015 at 3:07 am #

    I – LOVE – THIS!!!

  2. Faith Watson January 21, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

    Thank you Halina–you are so very kind and I appreciate your comment and your LOVING!

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