Secret to Becoming a Better Writer


Time is precious in today’s workplace. This is especially true for technical and scientific experts, who possess a unique skillset and often do the type of work that can’t be transferred to other staff. As highly paid experts, their time is at a premium.

Writing, which typically isn’t a priority for these staffers, can become an expensive time sink. Those who aren’t comfortable with writing often procrastinate or drag out the task. Furthermore, they might produce writing that demands heavy editing or even rewriting by management.

An easy way to help both writers and reviewers save time is to teach your team to prewrite.

Prewriting vs. Planning
Prewriting is not planning, although planning is also an important part of successful writing. Prewriting is simply a step in which the writer generates as many ideas as possible in a set period:
  • Brainstorming:  List ideas in no particular order.
  • Freewriting:  Set a timer for at least 20 minutes and write, without editing, on a specific topic.
  • Questioning:  Ask and answer the traditional “journalistic” questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
The primary point during prewriting is to facilitate the flow of ideas. Although not all the concepts you come up with will be used, an abundance of possible ideas allows you to pick and choose the strongest ones.

Don’t Skip this Step
If prewriting is so important, why is it so often left out of the writing process?

Many technical and scientific experts aren’t comfortable with writing. As such, they procrastinate; as a result, they’re left trying to produce a document under stress and in very little time.
Prewriting can actually save time and reduce stress, as it creates a strong foundation for the draft and helps writers clearly see the outcome of the final document. Writers can easily pick out ideas and see how they’ll fit together, rather than beginning a draft based on a faulty premise or weak idea and realizing their mistake only after wasting a great deal of time and effort.