Thursday, April 14, 2011

Strictly Writing




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One of the things you learn when managing a team of writers is that sooner or later, you have to lay down preventive quality control measures. This is not unlike the local municipality enforcing baranggay level laws that allow public wrecking crews to tow illegally parked vehicles (that is to say, Metro Manila vehicles without stickers).

But I guess managing writers is more like being in a ship, that is, writing for a team isn’t a democracy. Sure, they’re free to leave if they want to, but if they want to stay on board, they need to be able to submit content that is at least up to the level of writing that I am used to. And if they can’t, then they need to follow guidelines I set up in order to make my job easier.

stray comma

Rare is the writer who can complete his work by the deadline; in the elite few, even more scarce is the writer who can keep on doing this indefinitely without burning out. But the fact of the matter is that your clients won’t run out of work. They probably won’t even wait for you to complete the article. If your deadline’s done, and you haven’t completed the document yet, then you’re bowed.

The hardest part of all this is that the guy who’s managing the team gets the brunt of the client’s heartaches. Which is never really nice. This is where the manager reassesses his management style. Where did he go wrong? It’s a deadly cycle. I’ve been through it, and I think I’ve learned my lessons well enough to put preventive safeguards, such as a format to follow, and several other points to follow. I guess you can say that this goes against all my training as a writer, where you need to cut away the form in order to be able to let your thoughts form properly.

But I don’t know. I can feel my writer training looking at me with reproach as I implement a strict format for my writers. I know that it’s not exactly the best thing to do to any creative mind. I wouldn’t want my writing style cramped by a format just because it makes things easier for the client I’m writing for.

At the same time, I see the necessity. And at the end of the day, doing what is necessary over what feels right has to count for something.

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