Creating content — writing in particular — can be a very solitary pursuit. Even so, the isolation of the pandemic adds an additional layer of stress and anxiety because of personal and professional pressures that the creator, reviewers, and designers might be under.
Here are some tips to help if you’re feeling a bit more strain creating content during the pandemic:
1. Get a little help from your AI friends
Sometimes as a stressed out and fraying content creator, you need a little help from your artificial intelligence (AI) friends. Freemium-based add-ins such as Grammarly, ProWritingAid, PerfectIt, and WordTune can give a solitary content creator a level of assistance in proofreading and editing content.
While I don’t recommend depending on these AI-powered writing add-ins implicitly, they do a good job of making you stop and think about an edit. Using one of these apps can also show you patterns in your own writing mistakes which can be quite helpful if you’re into that sort of stuff.
2. Double or triple stack your content reviewers
Monotony. Boredom. Stress. All can play havoc with content reviews even in pre-pandemic times. If you were running your content reviews with one reviewer pre-pandemic, I recommend double-stacking or even tripling your reviewers. Not everybody is going to catch everything even pre pandemic. Using more than one reviewer also enables you to get different perspectives as well.
I also recommend leaving notes in your drafts with specific questions for your reviewers and pointers to where you want them to focus their reviews and comments.
3. Build in a buffer to your schedule
Even before the pandemic, I always tried to put a buffer in my writing schedule. It doesn’t always work but I do my best to do it. Having a buffer in my case takes away stress. I learned how to do it when I worked as a technical writer and carried it over to when I was a freelance writer.
4. Watch your document storage and versioning
Your email client shouldn’t serve as version control for your content. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace so a good job here of enabling users to save documents online by default. I especially like the sharing features in Google Docs for ensuring that everybody is working on the same document.
Another advantage of storing documents online not to dismiss is being able to review them using a tablet or smartphone because it can help you seeing things you may have missed on the computer screen.
5. Use checklists for content creation and editing
It’s a best practice to get editorial standards such as naming, capitalization, and writing standards down for reference. There’s no need to write a style guide though. Work management tools such as Trello, Asana, and Microsoft Planner are ideal for writing and editing checklists to keep your content creation projects on track and you’re not forgetting anything while living and working in COVID-induced isolation.
6. Know when to take a step back from writing
Working remotely means it’s easy not to put guardrails around your working day. Make sure that you factor in some break times during the day to step away from the keyboard. I make a point to step away from the keyboard around lunchtime.
7. Be good to yourself and others
When I was a technical writer, I came to see content creation as a people game. Writing can be a source of great anxiety for some people, even some experienced content creators. The best editors and reviewers I’ve ever had helped build up the document not tear it down. Micromanagers, show boaters, and others trying to battle for their relevance take away value from review cycles.
Be good to your content. Be good to yourself and your teammates. More importantly, don’t hesitate to iterate on your content creation processes to fix anything that’s not working for your or your team.
Will Kelly is a product and content marketer. His career includes time spent as a technical writer working on client projects for commercial and public sector clients. Will’s articles about DevOps and cloud have been published by TechTarget, InfoQ, InfoWorld, and Opensource.com. Follow him on Twitter: @willkelly.