Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Writing and the Collaborative Process of Creating Live Experiences

-By Ruth Moyte

It all begins with a spark.

The writing process is not much different than the event planning or design process. In fact, there are many aspects we share in common.

Like event planners and designers, my focus is to create an experience that blows the doors off the room. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that writing might be the integral element that can make or break an evening. There is nothing worse than setting expectations with an exquisitely beautiful room and then hitting guests with an uninspired program. Poor writing can suck the energy right out of the evening. Yawn.

Words drive emotion. Emotions drive events.

A provocative writer is a critical resource that should be in every event pro's arsenal to help clients achieve their goals. Words shape our emotions. Words command rapt attention; they have audiences jumping out of their seats cheering, dabbing at their eyes with a tissue or reaching for their pocket books to support a cause. As creative professionals, we know this to be true, because we create emotion all the time.

This is where the process really begins. Like you, my first step is to spend time really understanding what the client wants to accomplish with the event. Sound familiar?

Writers seek the same information that you find valuable; we just use it differently.

Pre-writing includes information gathering. We talk with the client and find out what their needs are, their specific purpose, and the goals for the finished product. The same step applies to design and event planning. Who is the audience? What is the purpose of the event? What is their ultimate outcome? The list of questions is long. I call this the ideas and inspiration stage. Once you have a general idea, it is time to expand on it so you know what you want to include in your rough draft, initial design or event plan. This is where I outline the concept and flesh out ideas that are important - just like you do.

Another thing we have in common is the need for time. So often, people say to me, "I need you to write a script, (blog, marketing campaign, creative proposal, speech, award submission, etc.), it shouldn't take long, right?" That common statement is what spurred my thinking about the process of writing and how it is so similar to design and event planning. There is a deliberate process and specific reasons for every step of the way. Of course, we can all pull off miracles, but as professionals, we know that the process is integral in creating quality results that live on in memories long past the event. When the process gets cut, details are missed and mistakes happen.

Just like event planning, great writing is found in the details, and I am not just referring to punctuation and grammar.

The rough draft is where creativity comes into play.

For writers this means getting everything on paper without correction, content rearrangement or refinement. For planners and designers, you don't worry about whether everything fits within budget, you just "paint" the full vision and begin to breathe life into the concept. There is a reason it is called "rough." The goal is to ensure that you've included everything the client has asked you to provide. Ditto for writers. This step is collaborative, creative and necessary for a good foundation.

For all of us, there are usually multiple drafts as we continue to fill in detail, include more elements, and flesh out the story. As I write this, I'm on version 5. Having been an event planner for almost 20 years, I know your process is similar. It has been said that doubt is a huge part of the creative process, and this step is where it is strongest. When we ask for content and concept approval, what we are looking at is the big picture rather than punctuation or the composition of the linens and floral. Being too literal in this stage slows down the process.

Revising to refine the big picture.

When you get the client's sign off on direction and content, it is time for revision. This stage is not about which specific flowers go in the flower arrangement; it is about the overall design or plan for the event.

Revising your writing is done from the bird's eye view - adding content, rearranging sentences, and removing ideas that don't work. Getting bogged down in the specific words and event details is unwarranted as the entire paragraph or element may get taken out in the next phase. Revising, editing and proofing are very distinctive steps!

Magic is in the details.

Finished revising? Now it's time to edit the details. What flowers are in the arrangements? Does the silver metallic thread running through the linens work? For a writer, details mean focusing on word usage and sentence structure. We purposely pay attention to spelling, style and convention, sentence clarity, repetitive use of words, tense, grammar and punctuation, refining emotions and making sentences more powerful.This is where we hone the writing or event to perfection and check and recheck every last detail. We quality check by sending out to a proofreader. The same should apply to events and design. Have someone else look things over. They may see holes or details that you overlooked completely. Details are the magical difference between success and failure - for all of us.

Let the writer's process guide you to a great end result.

Consider the writer as part of your team and brainstorm with her. Give the writer more information than you think she will need. Give her the gift of time to craft something that contributes to the experience of the event.

A great writer brings much creativity to the table. Not just in written words, but in how to take your event over the top and deliver a standing ovation.

Imagine this: The room looks amazing: the lighting is perfect, the decor flawless. You feel the excitement from the buzz of the audience. You know this event will go down as one of your best. Why? We followed the process.

Together, we took good ideas and made them better. Together, we made sure the details were right and that we met the client's goals. By working side-by-side - from inspiration to execution - we built a memorable experience that is emotional, captures imagination and spurs the audience to action.

Collaboration and honoring the process are the bottom line for creating a profoundly emotional experience and delivering it perfectly.

Ruth Moyte is the Owner of Red Dandelion Creative based in Temecula, California.  She has worked in the event industry for over 20 years on both the creative and production side of events. She is an award-winning event planner, creative writer and speaker. To learn more about Red Dandelion Creative, visit  You may reach Ruth via

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