To writers, editors, and subject matter experts in organizations everywhere!
We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make choices wisely.
— E.O. Wilson, biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist, and author, in Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
Most writing advice is aimed at the writer, alone and unarmed, who faces a blank page and who signs a name to the work. But as writers in organizations, we work with a ton of content considered ready to use. Our names do not appear on the documents we write.
In an organization, lots of people work on each document. Text is assembled. It’s reviewed and, sometimes, fails. It’s reworked. Problems persist. No one knows why.
As deadlines approach, we fix up the text as best we can. We work faster and harder. We learn keyboard shortcuts and sign up for online communities. We join associations of writers and editors. We attend writing and editing workshops to gain skills for hastening the process. Skills are good to have, but do not solve every problem.
There’s a bigger context: collaboration
As writers and editors, we are among the first to know how the company’s products and services are being described. We can act like focus groups, since we often see parts of text that need work. Are we being heard by our organizations?
What about success and satisfaction for writers?
Can we have a sense of achievement as writers when we produce documents that don’t bear our name or reflect the quality we think is important? Start with a look the 10 laws of collaborative writing, which remind us to define the purpose of our projects, or at least consider at what level we are contributing. We’ll explore success from there! (Hint: success has to do with the quality of your contribution and interaction.)
Please share your ideas and comments on collaboration here, or contact Christine Hastie.