by Veronica Louis
A few months ago, I decided to take on a new challenge: web content writer and designer for one of Canada’s oldest companies. I knew that having a job as a writer would greatly contribute to my 10,000 hours of writing, but going from freelancing to the corporate world took some adjustment.
In the corporate world writing is a process, and it could sometimes be a very long one. For a magazine, a writer might deal with just one editor. You submit your draft, the editor comes back to you with notes and edits, you make the necessary changes, and the editor might make further tweaks before it’s finalized and ready for publication.
In the corporate world, there are many choir directors. So for one story, or creation of page content, you might have to go through several “editors” with contrasting viewpoints and ideas of what should be on the page.
Detachment Is Key
It’s key to detach yourself from the piece. Don’t see the pieces you are writing as preciously crafted sculptures, but instead as fresh putty that can be manipulated and re-manipulated until the final shape takes place. The final result might be drastically different from what you started with. Accepting that from the beginning will help you deal with the changes, and not take anything personally.
You are not an individual writer, but rather a vessel for a voice and style that has been established before you and will go on after you.
After the usual research, interviews, etc., reading a sample of what those before you wrote right before you begin to write, will help you project the right voice and tone on paper. In the corporate world, there are no bylines. You are part of a choir instead of being a soloist, you need to blend in, not stand out.
Patience Throughout the Process
With every paragraph, sentence, and word under scrutiny, developing the time-old virtue of patience will save you a lot of frustration.
Something as seemingly simple as writing a 300-worder about a certain product may become a long, time-consuming process. It may go through dozens of drafts until it’s finally approved to be published. Every new set of notes is meant to refine and perfect the text. Evoking those creative juices time and time again will be necessary to reach the end, even if your juices are running low. Be patient, with yourself and with all your “editors.” If need be, put the piece aside, work on something else, and return to it once you’re refreshed. The end is always in sight.
The more you write in the same style and voice, the quicker the process becomes. For example, different departments may have very specific words they would prefer to use as to reinforce the branding of their products and services. Creating a reference guide for yourself of terms and taglines may save you time in the long run.
In the End
While not the most cheerful of analogies, you are a word-puppet and your employers/clients are your puppet masters. You heed to their every demand. But it will be your job to remind them of the message, angle or goal of the piece. Having said that, there are always exceptions. When it comes to facts, accuracy, grammar, etc., stand your ground if you are in the right. Your employers/clients will come to appreciate your honesty and stubbornness when it comes to proper usage. After all, the end goal is creating quality content.
Detach yourself from your text, mimic the style that has already been established and be patient with the whole process, and you’ll be on the right path of creating the right content the right way for the corporate world.