Streamlining the Writing Process

Do you tend to drag your feet when you are confronted with a writing task? Do you hesitate to begin because you don't know how to start? If that's the case, you're not alone. Often the difficulty lies in trying to compose and edit at the same time. Research on the writing process indicates that this approach short circuits the process, adding needless time and effort.

One way to overcome this difficulty is to ask yourself six questions before you start writing. Your answers will make the writing task much more efficient, and the final product will be organized for maximum impact, which means you will be more likely to get the results you want. Even if you have a narrow time frame, you will benefit by answering these questions mentally before you write.

Let's say you want to request some extra resources for a project you're working on. By answering the following six questions, you will have an efficient framework for your request:

1) What is my main message?
Our group needs two engineers to help finish a current project by the deadline.

2) Who is my reader and what does s/he need to know?
Our department manager. He needs to know the cost, possible candidates and their availability, potential impact of NOT bringing two more people on board.

3) What do I want my reader to do?
Bring two more engineers on board by the end of the month.

4) What facts do I need to support my main message?
Cost, names of possible candidates and their availability, cost of not bringing on two engineers - lost time, overtime, estimated one-month delay in meeting deadline, lost credibility.

5) How will I organize my information?
Request first, details for my argument second.

6) When do I need a response or an action?
By the end of the week.

The resulting message might look like this:

Dan,

We need two additional engineers to come on board by the end of next week in order to finish the Atlantis project for the projected release. As you know, we've already slipped two intermediate deadlines, and we can't afford to come in late with the final project.

I've talked with Mary, and she has agreed to lend us two engineers from her group, Peter Smith and Elaine Alt. They've both got the skills we need and have worked with similar projects. They can come on board as early as the end of next week.

If we don't do this, we stand to over-run the budget by $10,000 as well as lose credibility, and potentially market share for the company if the product is not released on time.

Can we talk this over tomorrow or at the latest, before the end of the week? I think we need to act on this now.

Thanks, Dennis


Now, you try it.

Send us your responses to the Q&A worksheet and the resulting e-mail and we'll send you feedback.

Q&A worksheet
1) What is my main message?
2) Who is my reader and what does s/he need to know?
3) What do I want my reader to do?
4) What facts do I need to support my main message?
5) How will I organize my information?
6) When do I need a response or an action?

 

LinguaTec
111 West Evelyn Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
phone: 408.746.3901
email: staff@linguatec.com

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