They say that death and public speaking are the two things we fear most in life. If this is true, then writing must be close behind in third.
As someone who basically came out of the womb writing, I’m confused why writing scares people—especially in this generation where we all seem too comfortable commenting, and even complaining on other websites. Yet somehow when it comes to contributing a real substantial piece of content, we freak out.
Whether or not you write in your personal life I am less interested, but I think it’s absolutely critical in this era that employees write in the workplace. Especially if want your company’s stories to reflect your culture.
If you work in internal communications, you are already aware how magical it can be when employees share stories or contribute to your blog. I don’t need to remind you how it increases employee engagement and transparency, or how a lot of your employees secretly love writing (even when they pretend they don’t).
Sadly you also know that it isn’t an easy task to get colleagues to commit to this. Everyone has an excuse, like some of these:
I’m too busy to write
If writing consumes too much time, you are doing it wrong. The best writing is almost always the writing you finish the fastest.
I don’t want to be critiqued
No matter how accomplished of a writer you are, you will never be above editing; so let it go. Besides if your work does get edited consider it a compliment. It’s the writing that I don’t know where to start editing that really scares me.
If I don’t use big words I won’t sound important
The goal is to be understood, not to win a literary prize. Don’t get hung up on what you think good writing should look like. Long words? Get rid of them. Esoteric lingo? No way! When writing for a B2C audience, aim for a grade 5 reading level. A B2B should be around a grade 8. When in doubt, put it through an online grade readability tool.
I don’t know where to start
One of the best communications courses I took was a course on free writing. It forced me to put my head down and write continuously. Was it perfect? No, but there was always enough content to work with. It was also a lot less painful than the alternative of staring at a page thinking, “What about…no, that won’t work, maybe once upon …no that won’t work either.”
That’s not my job
Writing may not be your actual job, but what exactly is your job? Do other employees understand what you do on a daily basis? Communicating your role helps others learn about you and how your job relates to others. Think of it as working out loud.
I don’t know what to write about
Actually you do. You are an expert at what you do. Whether you are a programmer, sales rep, or a CEO, you have expertise in a subject that others don’t.
So please, stop over thinking it and just write something. Your workplace will thank you.