When you reach a certain level of experience as a speechwriter, and your hair turns a certain shade of grey, people new to the profession seek you out for advice. One of the most important, and challenging, questions I get is “What do you do when you’ve written a great script and the client makes changes that really weaken the draft?”
I usually respond with a long winded discussion of diplomacy in the workplace, the duties of a professional, the consultant/client balancing act, etc.
From now on, I’ll just refer all tyros to a terrific blog post by Mike Long, veteran speechwriter, author, educator, and award-winning screenwriter and playwright. (You can find it on his blog and on Vital Speeches of the Day.)
The whole piece is spot on, and the last full paragraph should be part of the Official Speechwriter’s Creed:
When requests for changes come back, accept or argue against them according to structure, substance, and taste. To hold onto your satisfaction with the work, consider any changes to be carpentry – customization of an already excellent product provided to get the paycheck. Cling to that first version as the evidence of your talent, and take your pleasure from having written something so good, even if it never escapes your hard drive and your client’s harsh opinion.
I would only add that it also helps to reserve part of your time for your own writing. Give speeches; do freelance articles; or get creative with that novel, poem, or screenplay. As long as the writing is yours alone, it will help keep you happy…and sane.