hen you begin to write, your mind may give you random, disjointed thoughts. Your ideas probably won't come out logically or sequentially, but write them down as they appear, without worrying about order or logic. Don't judge and evaluate, simply collect them. Later you'll evaluate, sort, and organize them. At this stage you just want to get them down on paper, on tape, or on computer disk.
It is easier for most people to write this way, because the creative part of your brain isn't very logical, and the logical part of your brain isn't very creative. Don't expect your mind to perform both functions at once (although some can).
Use the "card trick" to organize your thoughts
Sometimes it helps to put all your thoughts on individual index cards, exactly as they come to mind. Later, you can sort the cards to get a finished product, eliminating cards that don't fit.
This is also a beautiful way to write a magazine or journal article with very little stress--and very little "writer's block," because nothing you write down has to be said perfectly or accurately. Everything can be sharpened up later. Your first goal is simply to collect your rough thoughts. Once you've accomplished that, here's what to do next:
1. Spend time on your letter. Someone once said, "With part-time effort, you get part-time results." This is especially true in letter writing. You can expect to spend several hours, or even several days, on a letter.
2. Write a draft, then let it cool off overnight.
3. Rewrite if necessary.
4. Use a strong close, like these: "After you have had a chance to review this letter, I will call you to get your reactions." "I will call your office next week to arrange a time when we might be able to get together. If you have any questions before that, please call me at (555) 771-4357."
5. Avoid weaker endings like these: "Please call me at your earliest convenience." "I believe that a meeting could prove to be mutually profitable, and ask that, if you agree, you contact me so that we can arrange a convenient time." "Thank you for your consideration. I am available for a personal interview at your earliest convenience and look forward to hearing from you." "In the next week or two when your schedule permits, let's meet and discuss my aspirations in more detail. Please give me a call." "I look forward to your reply."
6. Ask for opinions, advice, and feedback from friends, and from sales, marketing, and advertising experts.
7. Mail a small sample to test your letter. This is important. A consultant friend once mailed 76,000 brochures at a cost of nearly $15,000, and only got three responses. What a shame! The material was poorly written, badly designed, and poorly tested. Test your letters before you roll them out on a large scale.
8. If you're getting the kind of response you want, mail larger numbers.
9. Enclose a response form to increase your response.
10. Remail the same letter to the same people two or three times. Repetition often helps.
11. Don't mark letters "Personal and Confidential," unless there's a solid reason why they can't be opened by a secretary. If the letter is persuasive enough, it will get through.