In 2010 Annual Conference, Tuesday

Ken O'Quinn

Writers are artists, and artists need to be nurtured and encouraged. Their creative process is emotional and personal. So what can you do to motivate and inspire your writers?

  • Improve your own skills continuously. This encourages your writers to work on their own skills, allows you to keep up with the writer’s lingo and keeps you sharp and credible.
  • Leave it alone! The piece might not be exactly like you would write it, but that is ok. You guide the writer, don’t do it for them. By supporting their final product, your credibility increases in their eyes.
  • Coach, don’t do. By “fixing” articles, it can make writers resent you and their work. If you just fix it, you will see the same mistakes over and over again. Instead of telling the writer how to do the piece, ask them questions that encourage them to form their OWN ideas.
  • Stay in touch. Don’t hover, but be involved in the process. Talk with them when you first give assignment, after they have done research and after draft is submitted. That way there are no surprises at the end.
  • Create a culture of writing. Bring up conversations about writing while you are in the kitchen, hallway, water cooler, etc. Talk about a well-written article you saw or a good book you are reading. Put a bulletin board up with examples of good writing and tips. Keep writing at the forefront.
  • Keep the first draft. By keeping first drafts and all editing notes, the writer can compare initial and final product. By keeping them over the time of a year, they can compare first drafts from several months ago to current first drafts.
  • Read it three times. Look for something different each time you read it. First look for gaping holes and organization, second look for clarity and flow, and in the third do the actual proofreading. Print it out at least on the third reading.
  • Meet about writing. Have a brown bag lunch with your staff to discuss only writing. This allows you to do exercises as a group. A group setting is also less intimidating and doesn’t single people out.
  • Praise. Human nature is to thrive on praise. They deserve it!

Tips for proofreading:

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