Corporate Cowshed Classes

Published : Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The cowshed classes have been helping creative writers, for some years now, find the courage and technique to sound like themselves—in poems, stories, memoirs, lyric essays and novels.

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It’s an inspiring space here, in a vernacular kind of way. And what works for creatives can work for corporates, too.
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Lately, I’ve been helping some corporate clients find their voices again, and tidy their talk, in the shed. Drawing on what Geoff Whyte and I have to say in The Little Black Book of Business Writing, and letting the quietly spoken deities of this place where I get my work done—my poems and essays, and the speeches, web copy, articles, reports and brochures I write and edit for clients—do their work, I’ve been running some day-long workshops for business writers.
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Sometimes we need to leave the busy places where most of our business writing gets made—most of it in a hurry, and not especially well—in order to remember why we write at all at work, and why it might help if we said something more like we meant. With easygoing humanity, clarity and poise. How it might help us win clients and cut deals and prove our thesis, if we wrote more like we talk at our best—only better. As if this were a conversation we were taking part in. A good one.
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In the cowshed—a place where over a hundred years, men and boys, and then young novices from the nearby novitiate, put in some hard and honest work, and then where a painter painted, and where a poet now makes poems—it’s somehow way easier to see that the purpose of functional writing (in business, law, science, advertising, bureaucracy, diplomacy, banking, you name it) is not to sound like someone doing business; the purpose of the writing is to get the business done—fast and well.
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So, why not think of bringing your team, or your self, to the cowshed to learn how to write like a business person, without sounding like one, and how poetry and a bit of bracing and beautiful common sense can help.?

Here are some shots from a recent class. You might notice how good the food looks, too.