A grab bag of ideas I've collected along the way that might help you.


Anything else?

At the end of an interview, ask your subject if he or she has anything else to add. Pause. Allow for a moment of reflection. You may be surprised (and pleased!) at the good quote or useful information you gain as a result.

Capturing inspiration

When does that great idea strike? Probably when you are not at the your desk! Keep small notebooks by your bed, in your car, in your bag. Jot down your idea, even just a phrase or a few words, to jog your memory later.

Collaboration without chaos

If you need to organize many contributors to create a single piece (website, book, etc.), be clear about people's roles. Set realistic, but firm deadlines. And if you need consistency among the pieces, specify what you need from each person.

Creating a style sheet

A style sheet saves you time and makes all your print and online publications look consistent and more professional. Keep a running list of words and phrases your organizations uses often. Decide how you will treat them (e.g., policymaker, policy-maker, or policy maker?). Organize the list and make it widely available.

Crunch writing

If you have to write something ASAP for  your boss, don't panic. Spend half your available time "fast writing"--get all your ideas down on paper or screen. Then spend the second half molding the ideas into a more coherent form.

Dealing with numbers

Do you write 60 or sixty, 600 or six hundred? Follow a style manual--AP and U. of Chicago style differ on their rules--or decide best suits your organization. Whatever you decide, try to get everyone in your organization to number to the same drummer.

E.g. and i.e.

Know the difference? E.g. (short for exempli gratia in Latin) means "for example." I.e. (short for id est) means "that is" or "in other words."

Getting feedback on time

When you need comments from reviewers, colleagues, or your boss on a writing piece, give them a specific, but realistic deadline. Make it easy to respond by calling out where their comments are needed. When all else fails, it's time to bug 'em!

Happy anniversary!

Use a milestone to your advantage--be it your group's 1st, 10th, or 100th anniversary. If you research your organization's history, you can use it for all sorts of events, speeches, publications, and other ways to mark the occasion. 

Heads and subheads

They help orient the reader and serve as mini-summaries. Remember that every "A" needs a "B" (if you have one heading at a certain level, you need at least one more), and don't go overboard. No one can wade through five levels of subheadings. 

Honing a skill

Improve your writing through more reading. Think what you like or don't like about what you just read, and how you can apply it to your own writing.

Importance of a "fresh eye"

Bring in a fresh eye (an outside reader, be it an editor or someone down the hall) for a new look at what you have written. You'll be surprised at the mistakes that had passed your notice since you were so involved with the initial writing! 

A new look

When you need new business materials (cards, etc.), analyze what you like and don't like about the old card. Ask other people. Maintain some brand consistency but also think ahead to how you will use the cards in the next few years.