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The Société québécoise de la rédaction professionnelle: 20 years in the linguistic landscape

Christine Paré
Vice-President of Communications
Société québécoise de la rédaction professionnelle

2013-03-04

In 2013, the Société québécoise de la rédaction professionnelle (SQRP) has a good reason to celebrate: it's 20 years old! Twenty years of promoting and recognizing the writing profession. Twenty years of fostering the quality of written communication. Twenty years of actively participating in the vitality of the English and French languages by bringing together men and women who are passionate about their work.

A communicator and interpretive writer at the service of organizations

But who are professional writers? What do they do? How do they do it? First and foremost, the professional writer is a communicator who excels in the art of making a text accessible to a given audience. The professional writer's skill rests on two pillars: an ability to use language to deliver the messages of various actors in the public domain, and a talent for expressing ideas so that they are well received and understood by the intended audience.

From among the infinite possibilities presented by the endless array of expressions and nuances that make up language, the writer chooses words and builds sentences, paragraphs and texts that will recreate as faithfully as possible an individual's thoughts or the message of a business, an organization, an institution or a group. Each time, the challenge is twofold because the writer must capture the initial intent and be able to "stand in the shoes of," while being sensitive enough to readers, their baggage and their set of references to hold their attention. In other words, the writer must find the common denominator between the author of a message and the audience.

Combining creativity with strategy

Not only do writers need to have a thorough knowledge of language, they also need to be creative. They build something from a blank page. They translate someone else's thoughts into words, fill in the gaps and ensure the logical progression of ideas in a text. They clarify the intent, making sure it is well understood. In that, they are more strategists than creators. This sense of strategy is a skill that writers have usually learned in university and through the continual practice of their art.

Certifying and recognizing the quality of written communication

Every year, the SQRP welcomes into its ranks writers who have demonstrated their skill by successfully completing a certification exam in English or French. They must first submit an application that is reviewed by a committee in charge of admitting applicants to the exam on the basis of criteria related to their experience and to the quality of the work samples they have provided.

Annual exams are held in February. Writers who successfully complete these exams receive the designation "certified writer." More than a simple title, this certification is a stamp of quality on which an employer, a client or anyone recruiting a writer can rely.

Moreover, once every two years, through the Mérites rédactionnels competition, the SQRP honours writers who have distinguished themselves by the quality of their texts. The winners are announced at an awards ceremony. The applications submitted always reflect the excellence typical of the work of professional writers.

Contributing to linguistic vitality

New technologies, an increasing number of distribution platforms, an abundance of messages and information, the growing popularity of social media: written material is ubiquitous in both the public domain and the world of communication.

In this context, the expertise of writers will undoubtedly become more sought after and will also be impelled to evolve. Through training, workshops and continued learning, the SQRP is working to equip its members and provide them with opportunities to hone some of their skills and to deal with new ways of working, new distribution channels and, therefore, new types of written material.

This will appeal to writing professionals, who are always in "adaptation" mode. Just as they adapt to the senders of messages and to the receivers of these messages, they need to adjust to the various mediums by which their writings are made public. And it is precisely this constant shifting that nourishes their practice and allows them to contribute to the vitality of the linguistic landscape in which they work.

Now that it is 20 years old, the SQRP intends more than ever to carry out to the full its mandate to promote language skills to organizations and the public. An increased presence, a new image, a revamped website, partnership development... The ongoing projects are numerous, as are the opportunities they provide to celebrate with enthusiasm two decades of action in Quebec's language scene.