Reviewers Matter as Much as Writers: The Review Process Is Key to Great Writing

     


If your organization is like most, the review process takes a backseat to drafting when producing business documents. On the surface, that probably sounds logical. If you’re talking about a writing process, isn’t the writing part the only thing that matters? Who cares about reviewing and revision!
 
Indeed, many organizations give the reviewing and revision part scant attention. A survey by Josh Bernoff, author of Writing Without [BS]: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean, found that writers spend 45% of their time on just prep and research but less than half that much (19%) on rewrites.
 
That lack of prioritization vastly undersells the importance of review and revision. In fact, if your team struggles to produce consistently successful written materials, the problem may not be in the writers or the writing process at all but in the reviewers and the revision process. That’s because, even of those firms that do devote time and attention to this task, they often approach it inexpertly and end up wasting time, money, and resources while still failing to improve written documents.
 
So, if you’ve ever noticed any of the following, your team’s writing challenges might lie with your reviewing process:
  • Comments and suggestions often don’t result in real improvement
  • Writers continue to make the same mistakes, even when these mistakes are pointed out again and again
  • The review process takes a long time
  • Comments and suggestions often contradict one another


5 reasons why reviewing/editing in your organization doesn’t result in improved documents and wastes time:

 
  1. Your team has no review process in place
  2. There are no established guidelines for how to review
  3. Writers don’t know what to expect
  4. The review process isn’t guided by any agreed-upon standards
  5. Review isn’t collaborative between reviewers and writers
 

What’s a better way to approach review and revision?

  • Standardize the review process. By adopting a consistent approach to reviewing, organizations can expect consistency and predictability. In fact, fewer revisions overall should be required, because writers will no longer be chasing ever-moving goalposts. When reviewers provide edits and feedback based on established, shared principles of good writing – rather than pet peeves or personal style – writers know what to expect, can anticipate it, and can minimize the amount of rework needed.
  • Collaborate with writers. When reviewers approach their task as “fixing” the writing rather than helping writers think critically about their work, writers won’t have as much opportunity to grow in their writing abilities. Worse, it can lead writers to see reviewers as the “enemy.” Instead, both parties should be working collaboratively toward the same goal: producing an excellent, high-performing written document. This goal requires reviewers to be able to articulate why they recommend certain changes while giving writers an opportunity to participate in the review process. 
  • Facilitate the writing, don’t constrain it. This is a subtle and, consequently, frequently missed element of the review process. All too often, feedback is “limiting” rather than “generative.” In other words, reviewers should be facilitating the work that writers do. If the writer’s job is to generate effective documents, the reviewer’s job is to give writers a springboard for producing better work, not a set of (often conflicting) rules that inhibit their ability to be creative or effective.
 

How can organizations make the reviewing process optimally effective?

Reviewing is as much a matter of training and skills development as writing itself. Too many reviewers focus on what sounds good to them without themselves having a firm grounding in the fundamentals of (1) good writing, (2) the role reviewing plays in the larger writing process, (3) how to produce helpful rather than counterproductive feedback, and so on.
 
Our customized “Better Editing and Reviewing Techniques” workshop asks reviewers to consider ways in which their reviewing/editing stifle the writing process, waste time, and fail to improve the document. To ensure that the review/editing process results in improved documents and long-term change, Hurley Write teaches your team how to:
  • Focus on what matters in terms of readability
  • Establish standards/goals for reviewing
  • Establish a process to shorten review time
  • Create a rubric for reviewers and writers to establish and promote adherence to standards
  • Provide comments/suggestions that are SMART
  • Promote long-term change in writers
 
Your team’s time is valuable. So why waste it on an ineffective review process? Our interactive, customized, high-touch Better Editing and Reviewing Techniques course is packed with easy-to-implement tips and hacks that  result in instantly better writing and reviewing.
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