Wednesday, 2 September 2009

How to manage any writing project

People keep asking me how I manage to write as much as I do, as fast as I do. Well without a system I'd fall apart so this is the method I've evolved over my 6 years as a business writer. And in case you think this won't won't for fiction, then I used it to spec out and write a novel.

No it's not published... yet. May never be if I don't think it works but that's for another day.

Take this system if you like, run with it, change it and make it your own. It's a place to begin if you're floundering at present.

Step 1

Decide what you’re writing.
Think audience/problem/solution.

Step 2
Decide who you’re writing to.

Step 3
Decide why you’re writing.

Step 4

Collect all the research you need to write your piece.

Step 5
Write your first draft.

Step 6
Run the grammar and spell check. When you see the Readability Stats, aim for no more than 3% passive sentences.

Step 7

Check the layout. Do this in “Print Preview” at 75% and look for blocks of text that need breaking up.

Step 8

More grammar checks: now for the following:
X “I/We” sentences – turn them into a “You” focus.
X should/would/could – turn wherever possible into shall/will/can.
X all forms of the verb “to be” – is, are, was, were.
Wherever possible replace with a more active verb.

Step 9

Print out corrected draft. Then read out loud yourself, or better still ask someone else to read it.

That will show up long sentences, inconsistencies, places where the text doesn’t flow.
If they hesitate when reading aloud, that’s where your reader will hesitate in silent reading and maybe will bail out at that point.

Step 10

Correct and then print another draft. Ask someone else to look for typos. Your eye knows the text by now so well that it sees what it expects to, not what’s there. Make any necessary changes then you’re done.

Having a system for your writing projects means you’re more likely to achieve your aim and less likely to miss out something important.

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