3 Little Known Ways to Act Like a Writer
A cheer rang out from the people circled around the conference room table. Eight writers, hovered over their laptops, were thrilled to receive a new member to their group, me. I discovered that night, writers love people who write. The passion for sharing good words bubbles out of these people. Many of them are welcoming, encouraging, bolstering people.
You might imagine competition between authors in a tight market. Not so. Authors everywhere share their skills, practices, and ideas to help newbies onto their feet. My own writing is strengthened constantly by many authors, bloggers, and editors.
I am learning some great lessons from the writing community. I tried a few of the strategies out at the lab, and it is changing for the better. I want to pass the tips along to you. I bet your work space can benefit too.
Strengthen the weaker muscles. One key tip I have gotten from every professional writer is to write more than you plan to publish. Overwriting strengthens your capacity to endure when the ideas are not exciting. One author, Margaret Feinberg, even suggests setting a mandatory word limit every day. If you cannot come up with words to finish, then sit there and type blue until you reach the goal.
We tend to avoid the tasks that require stamina because we are not strengthened to endure. Identify those tasks in your job. Set yourself into a habit of enduring them. Meet your goal every day.
The task I avoid in the lab is checking my email. My company’s method of communicating orders and special instructions to the production scientists is through email. In the past I relied on my coworkers to fill me in. Similar to the end result in a game of Telephone, instructions came to me in shambles. Now I read through the messages for thirty-five minutes at the beginning of my shift and ten minutes every four hours. My awareness of lab operations is improving. It is up to me to build the stamina to complete the task each day.
Peer critique is a necessary part of each day. Everyone can always improve, no matter how long they have been in their trade. When our brains get stuck, we must seek outside help to move the mental process along. Successful writers incorporate editing and review time every week. I have met a few who will not submit a post without a second set of eyes searching for errors. Writers thrive in a large community, helping each other be better all the time.
I brought this to my manager at the lab, and she adjusted our weekly meetings to incorporate a time of peer critique. We take one lab process and set it on the chopping block. Each of the production scientists is required to critique the process, and how it has either helped or hindered productivity. If a team member suggests cutting the process, they are also responsible for offering a replacement. The following week peer review will let them know if their suggestion improved the lab.
Be aware of your day. Writers experience their lives. Great writers know what they ate for breakfast, who they met at the grocery, and how they accomplished their work. Details and memories fuel the fire writers must sustain to write well. If you stepped into a finance office building and asked someone in a cubicle what they did the afternoon before, do you imagine they could tell you the way a story is written? If you asked a retail clerk to describe their last three customers, would you feel like you know their customers the same as your favorite character?
Being aware of your day helps with two things. It grounds you in the progress of your career and helps you teach others from your learned experiences. Evaluating your contributions with clarity of mind will make whipping up a resume easy when your dream promotion comes along. Remembering an experimental technique and the successful outcome is essential to clear communication with your coworkers. Retaining the details of your day will enhance your career experience.
Everyone can act like a writer in these three ways. And as I am embracing these habits I have often wondered: If authors and editors and book publishers sustain an industry that has so many workers and products, could other businesses do the same?
I dare you to try one or all three habits in your own work place. Enhance your working experience the way a writer might, by strengthening your weaker muscles, embracing peer critique, and increasing your awareness. Leave a comment below so we can all know how the experiment is going and encourage you in this challenge.