Taking cues from product designers and other UX writers, I’ve traded in my reclusive writing habits for more inclusive ones.
Collecting feedback from designers, engineers, and product managers in copy docs throughout my writing process shapes how and what I write. Together, we craft more creative solutions informed by our diverse perspectives.
Make your work a team effort
Welcoming people into your process may take practice. Here are 5 ways to make your writing process more collaborative.
Lay out the welcome mat
First things first. You’ll be getting feedback from people with different expertise and approaches to problem-solving. You’ll need an open mind and a way to share ideas in a central place.
You could use a collaborative editing tool like Dropbox Paper. Create a doc and share it with your team.
Try thinking of your shared doc like a writing salon, a comfy living room full of color and light where everyone is welcome to add ideas.
Welcome exploration and encourage people to share their thoughts.
Humans inspire humans
Seeing a coworker’s face show up in your doc can motivate you to keep working and build out your ideas.
I like to imagine that the faces in my doc belong to a crowd of supporters sitting on cold metal bleachers at a track meet, cheering me on, some even ready to jump in and grab the baton when I get winded.
Timing is everything
Are you ready to share? Think about it.
You’ll be inviting people to share and help inform your thinking and writing choices. Before you do, you might want to pause. Sharing too early can put you on edge and make it hard to get down ideas.
So, give yourself a moment to capture your initial thoughts before inviting people to comment and add their own.
Capture your initial spark and outline your vision for the project: sketches, handwritten notes, brainstorms.
Decide on a set amount of time you want to work in “solo writer mode.” This could be 30 minutes, an hour, or a few days. The point is to be specific and track your time.
The simple act of sharing can move your work forward, so go ahead and invite someone you trust to weigh in.
After you’ve heard from one person, reflect on their feedback. Make changes if you need to, then start inviting more people.
Give ’em a bird’s eye view
Make your plans visible at the top of your doc or at the very bottom. Even if you’re not sure of everything, push yourself to share anyway.
If you like outlines, go ahead and include one in your doc, or try including a sketch or to-do list.
It may be tempting to apologize for mistakes and half-finished sections. Instead, add a brief comment in the doc that sums up what you want to work on.
How are things going?
You can use your shared doc to make sure you’re on the same page with your team.
When you share work-in-progress, be specific about the type of feedback you‘d like. For example:
Trying to decide between 3 different directions? Ask people to comment on what they think is and isn’t working.
Struggling with a problem section? Highlight that part of the doc and ask for advice.
Or share a list of questions at the top of the doc and check them off as you gather answers.
Nearly finished? Bravo! Ask someone for a quick proofread.
Banish writer’s block
Words are hard. Feel like you’re stumbling around in the dark? Check in with design partners and stakeholders.
Are unanswered questions holding you back? Is the purpose of the project clear? Do you need more data?
Let people know that you’d like their help clarifying the goals.
Whatever’s going on, capture your concerns in a doc. You could start a section called “Open Questions.” Or just pin comments throughout a brainstorm or meeting notes doc.
Then, invite someone else and get things moving together.