Written by Adedoyin Jaiyesimi, Communications Advisor and Co-Founder, The Comms Avenue.
This was the question I was confronted with in 2014. It was quite constant. People who read my articles and other written content always wanted to know how I write so that they could also replicate my ‘how’.
The problem was I didn’t know that there was a ‘how’ to the way I write. What I knew was that I could take my pen and paper or open a blank document on my laptop and just write. I didn’t know where the words came from but once I hit that magic spot in my mind, the words would gush out until I finished the piece I was working on.
After struggling to answer this question of how I write, I decided to actually pay attention. Surely, there must be a method to how I am able to write effortlessly? That decision took me on a journey that eventually led to the creation of The Sparkle Writers Hub. I also started to teach people the method of how to write because I was able to document my ‘how’.
How is this relevant to you as a Communications Professional? I’ll tell you.
A lot of times, things happen quite fast in the field. One day you are churning out 10 articles within four hours, the next day you find yourself writing or reviewing a script for a radio jingle. The list is quite endless to be honest. What happens is that many of us go through the motions of our day to day work without understanding how we do what we do.
The truth is that if you cannot document your creative process and develop templates around it, you will not be able to replicate your results on a larger scale. Bigger projects require more hands. You have only two. Can you guess where I am going with this? At some point you’d need to empower your team to deliver the excellent results that you are known for. How are you going to do this if you haven’t taken time to document your how?
Then there’s another reason which many Communications professionals are not aware of.
When you document your how, you equip yourself to earn income by training others or consulting on projects. You are highly skilled. There are so many people (and organizations too) that will love to learn how you do what you do. But how can you teach them, when you haven’t created any templates yet?
If you’re wondering how you can start documenting your ‘how’, I’ll share a few things I did:
1. Become more aware when you work. Since I can write from sleep, whenever I write I am not really conscious of how I am doing it because it comes quite naturally to me. One thing I did was to be more deliberate about taking note of how I write and create. That awareness revealed a lot about my creative process.
2. Outline the steps. I noticed that before I write, I muse on the topic for a few minutes. I used to call it waiting for inspiration but the truth is that I was searching deep for creative angles to approach the topic. If I get stuck for any reason, my next step will be to do a Google search to get inspiration. Sometimes I listen to music. When I am pressed for time, I write down all that comes to my head and then tweak it from there.
3. Flesh out the steps you have written down. Moving on from the list you created above, take some time to flesh it out. This will require you to go deeper into your creative process. Now, I’d admit there are some things you cannot document because like I said before, it just comes naturally to you. But document as much as you can.
4. Make it visual. Create an interesting flowchart which details your how from the beginning of the project to the end.
5. Save as a Word Document or PowerPoint. This will serve as a template which you can then use to train/ teach others. For example, most of the materials I used when I coached writers was developed from my personal creative templates and I was able to successfully replicate the results. Another thing to note is that if you choose to write a book on the subject in the future, this template can also be the foundation for it.
6. Tweak and Improve. Documenting my how allowed me to spot gaps and weak links in my process. So I tweaked and improved it. As I began to coach people with my template, I also started to think of ways to make it simpler and sometimes I had to tweak it to work in different contexts. In essence, I became a better writer by documenting my process.
You can do the same too.
Become mindful of how you create and come up with your ideas. You never know when an opportunity will open up to share how you are able to create those excellent results. Surely, you want to be able to share something concrete other than saying it was the grace of God. What people don’t know is that God Himself deals with processes. That’s a story for another day.
I hope you’ve found this post useful and I’d leave you with this question – How do you do what you do?