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Using creative writing techniques to write better at work

Keep the idea moving forward. Be original. Look at it from a new angle.

Why do we scream “Whoa!” when asked to attend a creative writing workshop for work?

The idea that workplace writing is not creative stems from the fact that corporate writing must always be clear. And this is true. But if you think about it, so must a story.

I incorporate creative writing exercises in all my corporate training. Those who do well at writing creatively do well at writing in general. If you struggle with writing emails and letters, proposals and memorandums, the problem is not that you cannot find the words, it is that you have not trained your mind to write meaningful words on a page. If you teach your mind to say what it wants to say in a safe space, you will teach it what to say when it matters. All that changes is what you are writing about.

Writing tip 1 – Letting go of the clutter

Most people simply write too much. Ideas are repeated, sentences are too long and important information gets lost between words that have no business being on the page. When writers write they say what they want to say and move on (or the editor deletes half of what they have written). Writing a letter or email at work is exactly the same. Get rid of the clutter and keep the idea moving forward. If you have already made a point, don’t try to explain the same thing again in a new sentence – kind of like what I am doing right now. Did I really need to repeat myself after I said, “Get rid of the clutter and keep the idea moving forward?” I could have used one sentence to make my point; I did not need two.

Writing tip 2 – Don’t use big words when smaller words will do

I touched on this topic a few months ago. Big words might make your sentence look impressive, but they do not always get a point across clearly. If you are spending time looking for synonyms and the meaning of words, you are trying to say something in a complicated way. You are also wasting time.

Writing tip 3 – Let it rest

If you find a letter challenging to write, start early and let it rest a day or so so that you have time to read it again. Letting it rest is a technique that most authors use. Before a story makes it to the world it is written, re-written, re-written again, sent to an editor, re-written again and then (hopefully) published. Most authors do not write perfectly the first or even the second time they try, and you should not expect yourself to. If you come back to the same letter a day later you will pick up mistakes, repetitions and words that just sound out of place. Your second try will sound a lot better.

Have fun writing!
Liz Tsikkos
The Hanna Smith Agency

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