Your personal plan
7-step writing process
It has been said that the secret of getting ahead is getting started, and the secret of getting started is breaking a complex job into smaller tasks, and then starting on the first one and moving on to the last. Extensive research shows this maxim applies to writing. The best way to write good material is to:
1. Identify your readers and your purpose.
2. Collect the facts needed to support your message.
3. Brainstorm. Creatively look for thoughts that support your purpose. Be open to new ideas, and work rapidly to generate and capture your thoughts.
4. Organize your ideas. Determine the main concepts and supporting details. Place them in a logical order.
5. Rapidly draft the text, using the materials from steps 1-4.
6. Revise your draft to refine the logic, enhance the structure, improve the flow, and choose the best words. This is also called editing.
7. Proof your document.
Steps 1-4 are prewriting stages. Effective prewriting eliminates writer’s block, helps you compose text rapidly, keeps you on track, and minimizes the need to revise what you draft. Not knowing how to prewrite often is the root cause of people’s dislike for writing and their poor results when they do.
All the writing steps are essential. Generally, collecting material (step 2) and revising (step 6) require the most time, while the most technically challenging phase is editing (step 6).
Sequencing the discrete tasks is important. Too often, in an effort to quickly be done with it, people start composing before they are ready. Rushing into the drafting step without preparation lengthens the job, increases the effort, and degrades the product. On the other hand, making ample preparation speeds the total process, reduces the strain, and yields better results.
So, start with the first step and then advance one step at a time. As you proceed, you may need to revert to an earlier phase. This is OK, because often your progress will reveal things that alter your earlier assumptions. Indeed, such learning is unavoidable and beneficial.
Your personal plan
You will gain the most from this book, if, at the end of each chapter, you pause to consider what you have learned and plan to apply it. This will help you make quicker progress.
To help you reflect on the key principles, you will find questions at the end of each chapter. Answer each question by writing or typing your response.
What do you feel you should do to improve your writing?
What is the best way for you to achieve this goal?