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Judith Halliday

Are You Rhubarb Or Custard?

Stick to what you are best at ...

Posted on: 10/09/2012   By: Judith Halliday

Remember that feeling of contrast in a good old fashioned rhubarb and custard sweetie - the tart, sharp rhubarb side followed by the gorgeously gentle and sweet custard flavour as the sweet turned in your mouth?

contrast is part of everyday life. some things I do well, some things I don't

contrast is part of everyday life. some things I do well, some things I don't

OK, so we forget that as the sweet turned and dissolved, it usually lacerated your palate and tongue as well, but hey, it was all part of the fun. Contrast is part of everyday life. Some things I do well, some things I don't. Sometimes I can't believe the incompetence of others, and sometimes I watch others doing things that leave me awestruck.

But what it all comes down to is "each to his own", do what you're good at and, if rhubarb's your thing, don't try to act like you're sweet and mild custard. Enjoying those bags of boiled sweets seems like a long time ago now (it's Lindt Lindor now, just in case you're in a generous mood) and that vast passage of time may be why I have started to repeat myself.

My tedious ramblings are usually in response to something that is said to me all too often. I work for a business publication and part of my work is to put together editorials that help to capture what a business is all about. I won't pretend it's not wonderfully flattering when a client tells me they can't quite believe what I've done - five minutes' chat, a quick look at their website and then, lo and behold, 300 words of copy that they are delighted with.

Casting off my blushes, what I inevitably tell them is that, actually, it's a good job I can write well, because, unlike them, my sign-writing skills, or my financial planning skills, or my international freight forwarding skills, are all too lacking. What I mean is that we all do what we are good at. No, they can't write like me, but that's because they are far too busy being far better than me at a whole host of other things.

Writing - journalism in particular - is a skill that takes some degree of talent certainly, but which can be learned. There's a way of doing it that becomes a habit; knowing what information you need, what to look out for, the right questions to ask and, most importantly, when you have enough information without wasting time delving far too deep.

It means that when you call upon a professional writer, you get a job done well. We can all write, but writing effectively is something that will come far more naturally to me than to a lot of other people, because that's where we differ.

Just like rhubarb and custard, good writing complements other skills and together they'll be a sweet combination.

Until next time ...


More about Judith Halliday ...

My writing career began under the bright lights of Gateshead in 1986 - who wouldn't love a job that offered the chance to listen to Gateshead Borough Council's Public Waste Committee debate the introduction of wheelie bins for three hours? It was the start of a working life that taught me what makes a good story and how to tell it and, although I don't have a news editor lurking ready to throw things at me any more, or so much of an interest in wheelie bins, my love of writing and a fascination with talking to people and telling their stories is as strong as ever.

Today I work for Business Times in Northampton and the Northants Evening Telegraph as well as providing copywriting services and press releases for a number of local companies.

When I'm not doing that, I indulge in the things I love most, which include, in no particular order: my teenage children, Sunderland football club, my husband, chocolate, QI, Chinese noodles, my closest friends, Test Match Special, red wine, reading in bed, The Sound of Music and growing vegetables.


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