A Harm Reduction Approach to Writing

Revising and Giving Feedback

Clear, engaging writing is critical to all aspects of public health. The best writing reads effortlessly, as though it flowed directly out of the author’s brain onto the page perfectly formed, no messiness, no revision required. But we all know that this is an illusion. The clearest, simplest prose usually starts out as a jumble of words and ideas in desperate need of multiple iterations creating a certain amount of emotional and intellectual turmoil along the way.

In public health, the harm reduction approach entails meeting people where they are, accepting that they will engage in behaviors that are harmful to their health, and offering strategies to mitigate negative outcomes. This webinar starts with the premise that all writing is flawed, and that we can use harm reduction strategies to make the process of revising our own work or giving feedback to others humane, pragmatic, incremental, and less overwhelming.