On word crafting

For the  past 3,5 month, I have been working in medical affairs* for two days a week, picking up some of the tasks from somebody who is on maternity leave and learning a ton about what happens in this area of the company. In this company, R&D is in one location and all of the commercial functions are together in a different location, which leads my R&D colleagues to make all sorts of comments about me "moving to the dark side". In medical affairs - at least with some of the tasks - you're the intermediate between R&D and marketing.

At R&D, we generally joke about how we do all the serious stuff and marketing is adding some frivolities in order to sell more of the stuff that we make. But now that I'm experiencing life on the dark side, I get more insight in the things that marketeers are really good at. And one of those things is -as the marketeers call it- word crafting. It turns out that making materials together with a marketeer is like next level twitter: how can you use the least amount of words to convey the most impactful message? In reality, this means going over the words 10 or more times, going back and forth with new ideas on how to change a word or how to rewrite the whole sentence.

And learning better how to do this and how important this is, I look with new eyes at my own sloppy, barely edited writing. Is this the reason I've been blogging less the past couple of weeks? Because I see how I throw stuff online without properly making sure every sentence is at the right place and in the right order? And I wonder if it would do more scientists good to do a short internship in marketing to learn more about the art of word crafting?


*I realize my pseud is getting thin, but in order to write about what I'm learning here, it is important to reveal what I'm actually doing.

4 responses so far

  • David says:

    I love this idea. A follow on question, how much of this do you think is about learning the art vs simply deciding to put in the time and effort? I feel like, before sending forward, I review papers 4 or 5 times more than my coworkers. When I send a paper to a coworker to review, they catch 3 typos, but I catch 30 of their typos. I'm not better at grammar than them, I just put more effort into making sure the errors are minimized before letting anyone else see it. Of course the marketing folks also know more about word choice and how people react to it, because its more important. So there's at least two things we can learn from them (effort and impact).

    • babyattachmode says:

      Yes I think you're right that it's both the effort and the impact of the words themselves. I am notoriously bad at putting in the last 10% to make things perfect, so for that in itself it's already good when someone pushes me to complete something with high quality, but as you say I think it is more than just effort here.

  • peirama says:

    Part of being a better writer is better editing and part is simply putting lots of words on paper. Just because your blog isn't a finely honed marketing message doesn't mean it's not worth writing or reading!

    • babyattachmode says:

      Thanks 🙂 and you're right, this space is just going to stay relatively unedited and sloppy. It's just that I realized how this work has slightly changed how I look at my own writing outside work too.

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