Writing for a weary, worn-down workforce

COVID-19 continues to put communicators in a tough spot. Here’s how to maximize your output and creative energy during this anxious, stressful time of life.

Better days ahead

It’s OK if you’re feeling fed-up, sluggish, worried or just plain lousy these days.

It’s understandable. Chances are your employees and colleagues are struggling mightily, too. We are, still, firmly in the grip of a global catastrophe, with no happy or tidy ending in sight.

However, that doesn’t mean your work must suffer or be a gloomy slog. Communicators are in a position to find and share good news—or to at least be uplifting, informative beacons in the middle of a storm. Here are three ideas to keep in mind as you craft messaging amid an ongoing pandemic:

1. Write for yourself, too.

It’s good to stretch those writing muscles in new and different ways. As Natalie Proulx shares in The New York Times, “Writing can also be deeply therapeutic. It can be a way to express our fears, hopes and joys. It can help us make sense of the world and our place in it.” In the same article, she offers 12 writing “assignments” (geared toward students but good for folks of all ages) to stoke creativity while enduring the pandemic, including:

  • Journaling
  • Personal narrative
  • Poetry
  • Letter to the editor
  • Editorial
  • Review
  • How-to guide
  • A “36 hours” column
  • Photo essay
  • Comic strip
  • Podcast scripting
  • Editing your own words—or someone else’s

Can you incorporate any of these tactics into your messaging mix? Do these writing prompts spark any creative ideas for a new series or campaign? At the very least, take time to write for your own pleasure. It is “deeply therapeutic,” after all.

2. Be upbeat.

But don’t blow smoke.

Starting the day with a spirit of gratitude helps. Harnessing a grateful mindset can “influence your productivity and success,” according to The Ladders, because:

  • It will tell a better story about your work.
  • It will help to manage stress.
  • It will help you develop stronger work relationships.
  • It may improve your overall attitude.
  • It can help you to shift focus when needed.

Starting your day with an attitude of gratitude—instead of negative grumbling or fretting about what’s to come—strengthens you to endure and overcome whatever challenges do arrive. You’ll be more poised, positive and professional. And it’s also just a healthier way to live.

3. Make people feel something.

Preferably, something hopeful, fun, vivacious or even delectable.

Your messaging—now and always but especially now—should be dripping with warmth, empathy and good cheer. Be thoughtful about word selection and judicious with the mix of information you’re sharing. Take special care with email etiquette.

There will no doubt continue to be plenty of bad or prosaic updates to share regarding COVID-19 fallout in the coming months, but take extra time to uncover uplifting, heartwarming stories. Write about those heroic mask-makers, bread-bakers and peacemakers in your ranks. Publish content that reminds people there is still good in the world and still good people at work.

Trade soulless, meaningless corporate jargon for emotive, lively phrases that make people experience an emotion. And don’t hesitate to share stories that make people feel hopeful that better days are ahead.

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