Even for professionals, being focused while writing is difficult. Writing can be intimidating, so much so that you can find millions of pages on "blank page syndrome" with just a cursory web search. And it doesn't help that, in business writing, you usually have a deadline hanging over your head.
Formalizing and streamlining the writing process can give you a framework to hang onto when you dive into those first blank pages. And with each piece of the process in its place, it can get you churning out finished documents much faster. When writing for professional’s, work through these four phases to have focused writing:
- Planning. Use this phase to clarify what your document needs to accomplish , and then develop an outline or use another prewriting strategy that puts details in their proper contexts. If you use an outline, outline both on a structural level (introduction, body, conclusion) and on a detailed level (in the body of a proposal, you might need to establish yourself as an authority, present a conflict or challenge, present facts, and build the case for recommendation, for example).
- Drafting. Following the outline, get all of the necessary pieces on paper. In this phase, you want to make sure that everything is present. It doesn't have to be polished. Just make sure that you're satisfying the document's requirements in literal terms.
- Editing. Once you have a document you can read through from beginning to end, make it read well . See if details are presented to the reader when the reader needs them, make sure you've got topic sentences and transitions, and proofread to make sure there aren't any technical errors. Make sure that you save editing until the document has been written; if you're editing as you write, you're wasting time.
- Formatting. If you have special format rules, such as a company style guide , or a standard business-letter template, apply them here. Pay attention to fonts and margins. If the document is going on the web, format it correctly in HTML.
Approaching new documents in a structured way can help you streamline the writing process and can increase the quality and speed of your work. To learn more about focused writing for professionals, contact us at Hurley Write, Inc.