In a book yesterday I came across this story: An old Indian craftsman spent his day carving intricate animals from blocks of wood. On viewing a particularly remarkable elephant he had made, a fascinated observer asked how he managed to carve it so beautifully. He simply replied – ‘I just cut away the wood that didn’t look like an elephant…’
I’m preparing to deliver a day on influencing soon, and I really like this tale. When I write something that aims to persuade, I’m going to try to cut away everything that won’t help me achieve what I want.
(The book was Can I Change Your Mind? The craft and art of persuasive writing, by Lindsay Camp, publishers A & C Black, and I can really recommend it. It focuses on the 3 R’s of persuasive writing – Remember the Reader and the Result.)