“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens could have been writing about 2022, as lurching from one crisis to the next remained business-as-usual around the world.
There’s still been plenty to be grateful for however. We’ve learned so much, celebrated milestones, been shortlisted for an international award, crossed state and global borders once more, surrounded ourselves with good people, and found new ways to help our clients make a positive impact with their words.
I asked the team at Writers to reflect on the lessons and ideas they will take from 2022 into a shiny new year that’s filled with potential.
1. We have some favourite new writing hacks
As a collective of writers, we edit each other’s work – so we’re always learning from different approaches. And it’s sometimes surprising to see what sticks long after the track changes are accepted.
For example, Nikola plans to choose her buts more carefully. “‘And’ and ‘but’ are both easy ways to connect two ideas, however ‘but’ essentially dismisses the first point,” she says. “When I started paying attention to this, I realised there were times I could use ‘and’ instead, to build on my first message.”
Katrina strengthened her own writing muscles on our 20-day Writing Challenge this year, and when pressed she admits she learned quite a bit. “Especially the Power of 3,” she says. “It’s a simple thing to put into practice straight away. Break down your idea or headline into just three words, or split long bullet point lists into groups of three. Three is the magic number to make it memorable and clear.”
Anna is known for her crystal clear copy, so I’ll be putting her secret weapon to use next year: Hemingway. It’s a simple, free tool you can use to check the readability of your writing – and it can give you an SEO advantage too.
Sarah (aka Baz) had a passive sentence lightbulb moment when she learned the ‘zombies’ trick. If you can add ‘by zombies’ to the end of your sentence (and it still makes sense)… it’s passive. And Alex realised writing is a team sport – getting a teammate involved early on to sanity-check tone, structure or message can save a whole lot of time.
2. Some writing projects make our heart soar
Asking a writer to choose their favourite project is like asking a parent to choose their favourite child (in other words, it depends on the day). Sometimes we love a brief because it’s right up our alley. Other times it’s because it pushes us well out of our comfort zone, or means working with good people on work that feels meaningful.
I always love telling stories about how business owners have overcome obstacles to create something amazing. Interviewing the alumni of an award-winning financial adviser program taught me a lot about business strategy… and that I’m a hard ass apple.
Nikola loved developing the tone of voice for one of our not-for-profit organisation partners, describing that journey as a “privilege.” Anna also found her not-for-profit campaign work “personally meaningful… and it meant I got to look at pictures of cute puppies.”
Alex has loved flexing his journo muscles on a range of people-profile stories (with high profile impact), while Baz has found her calling writing residential property campaigns. She says, “I like that I can get creative to build a scene and a feeling and give a sense of a place. Plus it gives me a chance to admire beautiful architecture!”
And Katrina was happy whenever a client said we hit it out of the ballpark first go. “Which I can say is rather often, just quietly,” she noted.
3. It helps to focus on one thing
When everything around is chaos, what’s the one lever you can pull to make everything else easier? For Alex, it’s about knowing he has the support of other Writers when a project gets sticky, while for Baz it’s having the confidence to stick to a consistent tone of voice – and counsel clients to do the same.
Nikola says the one thing she will take into 2023 is kindness.“This year, I’ve learned just how important it is for me to be kind – bringing more empathy into every interaction and not being so tough on myself. And doing more of the things that fill my cup, like reading more fiction, giving back, moving more, and spending more time with people I love.”
Anna has also learned to schedule in time for herself when the pressure is on. “Taking an hour to go to the gym means I’m twice as productive afterwards,” she says. Respect.
Luckily for all of us, Katrina is on board with this idea. “I want to make sure that everyone feels safe and supported to be their authentic, best self at work,” she says.
We’re ready to write the next chapter of the 2020s, armed with plenty of new ideas and a strong sense of purpose. How about you? What’s the one thing you will take into the new year?
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