CELEBRATING 10 YEARS WITH OUR SENIOR EDITOR STEPHANIE HASHAGEN
Since joining The Writers For Hire (TWFH) 10 years ago, Senior Editor Stephanie Hashagen has learned something important about herself.
She can write about almost anything.
Some of the weird and wonderful topics Stephanie has tackled during the last decade include the health benefits of beets, machines used to clean oil and gas pipelines, how to boost personal credit scores and invest in hedge funds, greening the construction industry, and growing medical marijuana.
Reaching the 10-year mark with TWFH has led Stephanie to reflect a bit on her writing and editing career.
While learning something new and out of your scope is always interesting and sometimes unexpectedly applicable (as most professional copywriters can attest to), Stephanie notes that her very favorite projects are those that are personally meaningful to clients.
A few highlights:
A few years back, we helped a father write a book about his son who died of cystic fibrosis when he was a teenager. It was an emotional project, but it meant so much to our client to have all of those memories and stories in one place. By the end of the project, I felt like I’d gotten to know his son.
We also did a book about a woman who came to the U.S. as a German war bride in the ’40s. She lived on a ranch in the middle of nowhere in Eureka, Nevada, like, six hours or so away from anything. We had to fly into Reno and drive for a bazillion hours on Highway 50 to get to her. It’s a really interesting drive. The people who live in that area, most of them have ranches and live in town through the winter when they’re not ranching. It’s beautiful, but you feel completely isolated. Stephen King wrote an entire book about that road.
More recently, I helped a client edit/revise his personal finance book. It wasn’t like a “traditional” finance book. He wanted to do something that was entertaining — like something that the average person would want to read. The book is awesome. It’s hilarious and full of random facts and pop culture references and whatnot.
When we asked Stephanie what advice she’d give to new writers, her answers had more to do with being real than technicalities.
It’s perfectly fine to break the grammar rules you learned in English class. “Professional” writing doesn’t mean awkward and overly formal. Sometimes contractions work. It’s OK to start sentences with “and.” Don’t be afraid to sound like a real person.
With writing, you never get it right the first time, it’s always a collaborative process, not one-sided.
When asked what advice she finds herself giving clients and team members most often, Stephanie chimed in with a few snippets of wisdom.
One thing I always tell clients is, don’t be afraid to tell us if you don’t like something. On some projects, your writing team will nail it on the first try and give you exactly what you wanted. And when that happens, it’s awesome. But on other projects, you might review a draft and think, “meh.” And that’s totally fine.
Sometimes you don’t know what you really wanted until you see something that you’re not that crazy about. And it’s incredibly helpful to us if you can say, “Hey, I wanted something more conversational,” or “I think we focused on the wrong benefit on the home page.” Writing is a back-and-forth process. It’s normal to go through a couple rounds of revisions.
I often tell our writers that much of any writing job comes down to simply listening to what clients have to say. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s no such thing as having too much information or getting too much clarification.
In her 10 years at TWFH, Stephanie has most enjoyed the collaborative nature of the team. She loves that everyone is on the same page and is working towards a core mission: to produce high quality deliverables that will offer exceptional and lasting value to each and every client.
And TWFH team has enjoyed working with Stephanie, owner Wintress Odom says.
Stephanie has been an invaluable member of the TWFH team, and we hope she sticks around for another 10.
Congratulations, Stephanie. Thank you for 10 years of grit, focus, passion, active listening, outstanding editorial guidance, strength of character, and solid leadership on every single level.
NOTE: Stephanie was too humble to take a photo of herself with her 10-year anniversary trophy, but has kindly substituted Emilio, who used to be our office cat and was generously adopted by Stephanie during Hurricane Rita.