Group Writing Never Works

As I write this, I’m in an amazing meeting. Fifteen-plus people are working on some copy, some of which I wrote. And they’re slowly strangling it.

Writing is, in the end (and the beginning) a solitary activity. One person is trying to get another person to feel/understand/think the same thing they do.

And for whatever reason, whenever you turn a group of people loose on something, the work reverts to the mean. Personality gets ground down. Energy gets sanded off. And whatever life, clarity and impact the writing has dies. Slowly, but in the same way that a car without the brakes set will slowly roll over a cliff. The result is mediocre, regardless of how good it was in the beginning.

And even worse, after a few repetitions of this, everyone starts accepting it as normal, and inevitable. I had a call this morning with my client about what’s happening, and quite reasonably, her response was, “Oh, well. That’s what happens. Get used to it.”

I’m a professional, and so I’m not taking this personally. But still, it’s too bad. It could have been a nice piece of work.