The Write Way

Part of the Plan

Man writing“I don’t have time to write!”

This complaint is common in companies that produce business, technical, or scientific documentation. Although these materials (scientific research articles, technical documentation, grant proposals, SOPs, and the like) are vital to the success of the organization, many employees view writing as a second-tier chore. After all, they see their “real” jobs as developing and working with actual products or technologies, not writing about them after the fact.

Unfortunately, when writers feel that way, readers can detect this lack of focus in the final document. That means fewer articles accepted for publication, fewer proposals granted, and more frustration for everyone involved.

A solid writing process helps eliminate the problem of treating writing as a lower priority. When scientists and technical experts understand how to make writing a part of their everyday work, they quit viewing the task as a competitor for their valuable time. Instead, writing becomes an integral piece in every process. As a result, they produce better documents that have a much greater chance of success.

Plan for success
A solid writing process involves several stages, from planning to drafting to revising. Good writers use about 80 percent of their allotted time planning a piece and 20 percent writing and revising. In fact, lack of planning is a primary issue for many writers and leads to unfocused, poorly conceived documents.

The initial planning aspect is sometimes called prewriting. Prewriting comprises all the tasks that come before drafting a document:

Successful completion of these steps makes the actual writing much easier. When employees learn how to incorporate prewriting steps into their daily work, the entire process becomes faster and less painful.

Define the purpose
Even when you don’t need to choose a topic, you do need to establish a purpose and focus for each document. What conclusion should readers come to after reading? What action should they take?

When writing, make regular observations about the purpose of your projects and what results you hope to achieve. Make a habit of recording those observations for use during future writing assignments. (For tips about keeping focus during writing, see the article “Get to the Point” in this issue of The Write Way.)

Know who’s who
Audience is another important factor that should be on your mind straight from the get-go. To understand the reader, you need to consider not just who will read the document but also the type of information readers will want and where they’ll expect to find it. What is their level of understanding? Whom else might they pass the document to?

Tailor the message
Once purpose and audience are established, you can begin organizing the document. Keeping in mind the message you want to convey and the actions you want readers to take can help you craft a structure for presenting that information.

Write while it’s fresh
Many writers sabotage their efforts by procrastinating when tasked with a writing project. However, if you can make it a habit to perform these writing steps while working on the project, writing the document will be less stressful and easier. For example, a software developer who gathers information and keeps careful, organized notes during each step of testing a new program will have a much easier time completing the documentation afterward.

With a detailed plan in place and plenty of information at your fingertips, you’ll discover that drafting documents is much simpler. Adopting a writing process saves time in both the writing and revision phases and delivers more effective documents. Get started today!

Teaching your team to use a sound writing process is crucial to the success of your business. Hurley Write can teach your employees to write stellar content. Email us or call us toll-free at 877-24-WRITE (877-249-7483).

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