Welcome to week six of the #WritersQuick5 series - where we learn about writing from follow writers.
One of my biggest pet peeves about the word ‘writer’ is that it’s almost always associated with being published. But, so many people write every day - and are paid for it - and that writing will never been formally seen outside an office or a specific workplace setting. Does that mean they aren’t writers? My answer: no. We are all writers. Writers come in all shapes and forms.
In fact, I’ve found that being formally published doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more eyes on your work either. Many of my positions in the workplace have revolved around writing, and in particularly in the case of website content, some of my projects have been seen by thousands upon thousands of people. If each webpage hit was a book download, I’d be a millionaire.
And so, when I started doing these #WriterQuick5 interviews, I made a commitment to myself that I would feature people that are published sure, but also people that write for a living in other ways too.
Today I’m honored to bring you the answers of my dear friend Margaret Hahn. I was privileged enough to work with Margaret for several years, and now that we are both in new positions, one of my only regrets is that I do not get to interact with her every day. Margaret’s field is Technology Change Management with a focus on Internal Communications. She writes every day. Her work goes to hundreds, if not thousands of people. So, I wanted to get her perspective. What is corporate writing really like? Let’s see what she has to say…
Question #1: Where do you write and why do you write there?
This question has two answers.
1. I write mostly at my desk in the corporate office. I write here because it my assigned seat in my office. I am usually plugged into calming music on my phone so I am not lured by any distractions around me.
2. If I am not writing for my day job, I typically write in bed or at my dining room table. When I am writing for pleasure, like personal storytelling or food writing, I like to find a cozy and comfortable space. I like to be comfortable and have few distractions. Since I don't have a dedicated office at home (which is shared with my partner and his three kids) I like to find a cozy space that is a little more private and away from the hustle and bustle of the house.
Question #2: What is unique about writing for your particular genre?
My corporate writing is largely focused around communicating a change and is somewhat similar to sales or advertising. I often have to sell a change and hopefully people connect with what it happening, why, and understand how it impacts the day to day. Typically my writing has to do with encouraging a behavioral change, so I have to focus on the "WHY" for people; hopefully this helps create a connection to the change. My writing is often fraught with challenges because it must be engaging, but is often technical in nature. Also, it must embody the voice and values of the company. I must maintain a high level of professionalism and polish, but must have communications that grab the attention of people.
Question #3: What are some of your grammar or punctuation pet peeves?
I love the Oxford Comma. I love it. However, the style at my company is anti-oxford comma. I have to always remember to take out my extra commas to align with our style here.
I also have a letter press print in my house that I love: "Dear Punctuation, I want you inside me. Love, Quotation Marks."
It also bugs me when people put a period at the end of a statement attached to a bullet point.
Question #4: At what point in your writing process do you start to bring other people in to review your work?
I usually bring my work to people once I have gone through my first draft, stepped away, reread and revised as needed. I love getting feedback and having someone else take a peek at something I write; I'd hate to miss anything. Given my type of writing, I am rarely emotionally connected to it, so I welcome any and all feedback. I push back when I feel it is critical, but that rarely happens.
Question #5: What advice would you give to a new writer about the writing process?
I think focusing on the goal is super important. What are trying to say? Why are you saying it? What is the point? Can you outline or bullet out the points? Do you connect to the why? I sometimes lean heavily on outlines, whether it is in professional writing or in storytelling. I like to know where my goal posts are and aim for those points.
Thank you to Margaret for giving a voice to all the writers out there that are affecting change every day. Your answers prove that there is a personal touch to all writing, even at the corporate level. We appreciate what you do! If you want to connect, you can find Margaret on LinkedIn or on Twitter.
If you would like to be featured as a writer in the #WritersQuick5 series, please just reach out and let me know. I’d love to promote your work as well!
For updates on #WritersQuick5 and other info from me, please follow me on Twitter or check back with this blog for all the latest.