I’ve always loved the Northern word ‘canny’. There’s a calculating edge to it, but in a wholesome, no-nonsense, practical sort of a way, rather than any underhand scheming. It’s not a bad word to describe my approaching to writing, either.
Here’s a bit of etymology for all you word geeks out there:
Can (modal verb)
Be able to:
Be able to through acquired knowledge or skill:
Have the opportunity or possibility to.
Skillful; knowing; capable. (Sir Walter Scott)
Cautious; prudent; safe. (Allan Ramsay)
Having pleasing or useful qualities; gentle. (Robert Burns)
Reputed to have magical powers. (Sir Walter Scott)
So what’s canny writing?
It’s not making it any harder than it needs to be.
It’s writing the right book to build your business, in a way that has the biggest impact on your business.
It’s writing it at the right time, when you’ve got something distinctive to say and can say it with authority, but before it gets stale.
It’s targeting your writing at the right readers, the people you most care about reaching, and getting the right language and tone to appeal to them.
It’s choosing the right topic.
It’s making your book the right length, long enough to cover the topic, short enough to make it easy to read.
It’s getting the right structure: as simple as possible but no simpler, as Einstein put it.
And it’s making the book pay its way in your business, putting what you write out there as you write, seeing how it lands and what comes back, starting the conversation, making connections.
What might canny writing mean to you?