A Field Guide to Workplace Writers

On any given workday, you can find countless people typing on laptops. They may be writing emails, reports, papers, advertisements, job postings, or resumes. They all have one thing in common: They are assembling thoughts into a written form, and hope that those efforts will support their careers.

They are workplace writers.

Workplace writers come in many guises. Some are successful, while others struggle. It’s important to know the difference, particularly when approaching one with a writing project.

Distinguishing between the different varieties of workplace writer can challenge even the most astute observer. Use this handy field guide to help you identify each type you encounter.

The inadvertent writer may be the most common type of workplace writer. They frequent all kinds of offices, filling roles ranging from the C-suite to the administrative roles. For the inadvertent writer, written content is a byproduct of their role.

The inadvertent writer can often be identified by the look of surprise when something they’ve written doesn’t get the reception they expected, or when it returns to them filled with comments and corrections.

Aspirational writers want to write, but never get started. They may be waiting for the perfect opportunity, when they have caught up on anything else.

You can spot them reading blog posts entitled “How writing a blog post every day changed my life” with a dreamy look in their eyes. They often have piles of unused Moleskin notebooks on their desks.

Reluctant writers don’t feel comfortable writing, so avoid it whenever possible.

To identify the reluctant writer, use this simple test: Invite a group of people into a room and announce that you need blog contributions. The reluctant writers will dive under the table or find an excuse to take an important call.

Unproductive writers readily accept new projects, then don’t get them done. They may have towering piles of untouched projects around them. While other people in the workplace initially interact with the unproductive writer, eventually they move elsewhere and stop asking.

Frustrated writers struggle to get their writing projects through approval processes. They often feel that no one values or uses their work. They may care deeply, but feel that the environment doesn’t support them.

Identify them by the perpetual frown lines and occasional outbursts.

Overburdened writers take on all of the writing-related tasks of their teams. They often migrate to this role from a college English department. (Reluctant writers are often found congregating near an overburdened writer.)

You can nearly always locate this type of writer at a desk, working. On weekends, they will be hunched over a laptop at home, still working.

Look for the harried expression in their eyes, and the people lining up to throw writing projects their way.

Successful and valued writers are rarer — and always worth seeking out. You can identify them by the trail of completed projects they leave behind and the crowd of people who want to work with them.

Your actual title or area of expertise doesn’t really matter. If writing is any part of your job, then you are a workplace writer. Which type are you?

These designations aren’t separate species. You can move between types quite easily. Everyone can learn the practices of successful, valued writers.

That’s the subject of my latest book, The Workplace Writer’s Process.

It offers easy-to-implement advice to transform your writing on the job. Whether you are aspirational, frustrated, overburdened, unproductive, reluctant, or inadvertent, use the practices in this book to become a successful, valued writer in the workplace.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Originally published at annejanzer.com on July 17, 2017.

Author, Writing Coach: Writing about Marketing, Technology, and Writing Itself (very meta). AnneJanzer.com