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How many of you can relate to that feeling of relief and maybe even joy when you are “oh so close” to completing a task. As a workplace investigator, I can definitely relate. In my experience, it is a great feeling knowing that I am close to placing a checkmark beside an investigation and moving that investigation file to the “closed” section of my files. I am not sure about you, but in many instances, I find myself daydreaming about putting both feet up on my desk with my hands behind my head. Right up to the point when I realize that I am at the report writing section of the investigation. Pop daydream bubble and back to work I go!
For some folks, the report writing phase of an investigation can be a breeze. For other folks, they may find themselves in what I like to call the “I’ve lost my writing mojo” hump. I believe the proper term is “writer’s block.” I will admit, the report writing phase of an investigation can be frustrating at times. Take it from me, there have been times where I have experienced the old “western stare down” with a report, especially when dealing with a complex investigation. Bad news though; the show must go on, and as my colleague, Liliane Gingras, so nicely put it in her blog, “Getting unstuck: A how to guide on writing workplace investigation reports”, “Unfortunately, that report won’t write itself.” The good news is that I’ve put together some tips below to help you move along to find your writing mojo.
1. Write the evidence as you go
One practice I was introduced to when I started my role at Rubin Thomlinson is to write your evidence into your report as you go. In other words, as soon as you have completed your interviews, input that evidence into the report. Try to avoid writing your evidence at the last minute. That way, when you are at the final stages of your investigation, the only steps left are making your factual findings, conducting your policy analysis and/or making recommendations (if requested by your client) and editing your report.
2. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy
Start with the easiest section of your report. If you find yourself writing along and you get stuck, go to another section of the report. You can always come back to the “stuck” sections of your report. In my experience, I find the most challenging section of the report is the factual findings section. A way to tackle those sections is to first focus on the allegations that were the easiest to make a finding for, such as those where you have an admission. That way, you are still moving along with writing your report.
3. Find your “writing place”
I know firsthand that working remotely has been one heck of a rollercoaster. On the one hand, it has been great to conduct my interviews and draft my reports in the comfort of my own home. However, I have found it difficult to get into the writing mode after sitting in a four-hour investigation interview. As a way to get out of this dilemma, I have created certain spots in my humble abode as “writing spaces.” Changing the location of where you write your report can positively impact your motivation and assist you in getting your writing groove back.
4. Step away from the report and eat a Kit-Kat
Still can’t find your writing mojo? Take a break and have a Kit-Kat. I’m not kidding; it works.
I remember the grin and laughter on my mom’s face when I confided in her one time while in law school that I was stressed about an assignment with a pressing deadline. My awesome mother paused as I told her how stressed I was and told me to take a break and have a Kit-Kat. It’s a memory and sound advice that I have carried with me into my professional life. If you find yourself stuck on the report, step away from the report. I repeat, step away. Okay, not literally because you actually have to complete this report, but you know what I mean. Take a break and turn your focus to something else that will distract you. The goal is that once you have taken a mini-break from the report, you will come back feeling refreshed and ready to type away. Trying to force yourself to write may be more unproductive than productive.
5. Talk to a colleague
If all else fails, talk to one of your colleagues. It may be a colleague who has more experience than you or one of your colleagues you can have a brainstorming session with to get you out of your writing rut. I have found in my experience that talking to my colleagues has helped me more than I can even imagine, and I hope it will do the same for you too.
Okay, now turn off your Netflix and let’s start writing!
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