Your boss has asked you to write an article for the company website about an important project your team just finished. You are proud of the project and getting the word out will be exciting! You sit down to type. You look at the empty Word document. And the blank page just looks back.
Welcome to the challenge of creative writing for business!
Too often, we think of creative writing as something that is written outside the office, and business writing as something that happens at the office. In fact, any time we create a new approach at work, we are creating—and writing about that creation is a creative writing exercise.
So, if you get stuck while writing a business letter, article or report, consider these five tips:
- Decide on a Writing Category. Telling: are you instructing how to accomplish a task? Asking: are you asking a question? Shaping: are you sharing a good news story to boost support or change an opinion?Knowing the category – or goal – can help you get started. If it is Telling, start by listing the steps. If it is Asking, write down the key question. If it is Shaping, start with your opinion and why it is important.
- Tell a Story. Storytelling is a great tool for creative business writing. In fact, many business schools use the “case study method” as a teaching tool. What is a case study? A story. So, instead of writing a list of procedures, tell a story about the person who needed to complete the task, why and how they did it. Instead of asking for money or business, tell a story about someone who benefited from the service, or a client who has benefited from your work.
- Brainstorm and Edit. Once you have something written down, just start adding. More details about the steps or policy; more questions and why they are important; or what the alternative views may be and why they matter.Many people find it easier to edit than to write, so write down anything related to your subject, without stopping and reading as you go. Just type. This is also called “stream of consciousness” writing. Then, go back and edit for structure, flow and language.
- Proofread! And no, editing is not proofreading! Business English is tricky, and making sure you have the right tense, no missing words and no typos takes careful focus and attention.
- Start with Five Tips About YOUR Topic! If you are really stuck, write down your topic, and then generate five tips about that subject that you would give to another person. This provides a framework and structure for your writing, while still leaving lots of room for creativity.
Creative business writing allows you to have fun with serious subjects – these tips can help you create a work product that grabs attention, while also providing valuable knowledge.