Businesses spend millions of dollars on advertising, day-to-day operations, research and development, personnel, and acquisitions. But they seldom focus on how they will develop and manage a successful writing culture. Yet building and maintaining a successful writing culture for a business is essential to all its operations. It establishes effective and clear communication, and fosters a collaborative and positive environment.
Once you build a successful writing culture, fewer embarrassing and potentially costly errors will occur inside and outside your organization or team. Below are some pointers on how to build and maintain a successful writing culture.
Make Writing Fun and Collaborative
If you really want to build a successful writing culture for your team or organization, you need to make it fun and enjoyable for everyone involved. Here’s how:
- Expand your definition of what a “writer” is. Everyone at least writes emails, so everyone needs the chance to improve their writing skills.
- Allow people to make mistakes during the drafting stages so they can learn from them and fix them.
- Create a collaborative environment in which writers can edit and provide feedback on one another’s writing in a relaxed buddy-system way that’s supportive.
- Invest in training that isn’t boring or establish writing groups that meet weekly. You can also distribute writing exercises that are enjoyable and not too arduous on a regular basis.
When you make your writing culture fun and collaborative, it will also inadvertently create a system of accountability because everyone is involved in polishing their own writing skills and helping their peers.
Document Your Process and Make It Accessible
Your writing process should be documented well if you want it to be followed by everyone who writes for your team or organization. And it should be saved on a cloud drive or a platform that everyone can access. Don’t simply email it to the next person who asks about it or have it saved on just one person’s desktop.
Your process should clearly lay out the phases each type of document should go through before it is shared with the public, with partners, or internally. For instance, you might want a peer review system for internal documents that are collaboratively created, before management approves them to be shared in the cloud for all other employees to see. And you may want more detailed reports or proposals to go through two or three phases of thorough editing before you send them off to a proofreader. Be sure to detail roles and responsibilities inside your writing process document so that no one is guessing where they should send their document next, or even worse, not consulting an editor or proofreader at all.
Establish a Style Guide
Every person who writes anything for your team or organization should refer to the same style guide. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Chicago Manual of Style or an in-house style guide that was created by management or a dedicated communications team. If you want your communications and written material to be consistent in voice, and want them to continually reach the same standards, then you must clarify what style guide needs to be followed. Mention which style guide everyone should follow inside your documented writing process, and save it to the cloud as well so that everyone can refer to it when needed. And when the style guide is updated, be sure that everyone receives a notification about the updates that were made to it.
Use Pre-Publish Checklists and Templates
You can also include a checklist at the end of your documented writing process. Make it easy for writers to verify they have followed all the steps and phases required in your established writing process before they share or publish a document with others either inside or outside your team or organization.
Most organizations create the same types of documents over and over. Save time and resources by identifying the essential elements and structures of those documents, and develop general outlines and templates for them. Creating templates that writers can use when compiling common or routine documents not only increases efficiency and output, but ensures style guidelines and quality standards are consistently met. Be sure to save checklists and templates in your shared cloud folder too.
Update Your Resources and Documents Often
Dedicate individuals within a department or team to update your writing process, style guide, checklists, outlines, and templates, on a rotating schedule. Ensure everything is titled appropriately and saved in the shared cloud drive. And give everyone an opportunity to submit suggestions for amendments to filed documents by allowing a space or email inbox where they can post messages and comments. While you won’t have to update these documents every week or even every month, they should be living documents that are adjusted along with the changes that your organization experiences. They should never remain static, or your communications and writing will remain static too.
The best way to build a successful writing culture for your team or organization is to have everyone engaged in establishing the writing process, and to make it fun. It’s also essential to keep all documents relevant to your writing process updated and stored in a central location.