It’s tempting to think of writing as a something one does alone. All writing is, to some extent, collaborative. Many book forewords tell the story of how people helped the author: editors, mentors, peers, wives or husbands, friends, kids—even the cat. The content still belongs to the author whose name appears on the cover. As Ray Bradbury says in Zen in the Art of Writing, “Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spent the rest of the day putting the pieces together.”
As a writer in an organization, you pretty much have to take your “self” out of the equation. What you write will be reviewed, approved, edited, revised, possibly translated, copied, pasted, adapted, and later, set in bullets in a presentation. It may be your writing, but it ain’t your message. The message belongs to the organization and lots of people have a hand in it.
Business writing is collaborative. It’s the first of 10 laws that any organization’s writer, editor, translator, and their manager, must internalize. Your ideas and material are but contributions. There are several levels of collaboration, though, and not all collaborative writing needs to be an organization-wide, multidisciplinary team production.
“The medium is the message,” as Marshall MacLuhan said. If the organization is the message, all its employees are part of the writing activities, even if they don’t hold the pen. The organizational culture inspires and touches all who convey its messages. Everyone can offer a perspective. That’s part of the writer’s challenge, finding a clear view through all the perspectives. One starts by listening.