Don’t like to write?  If writing is a chore, if one doesn’t feel competent as a writer, doesn’t enjoy writing, or simply doesn’t know how to approach a writing project, the writing won’t get done, or it won’t get done well and/or on time.

To help non-writers navigate writing projects, I am developing a guide to producing effective written material on time and with a minimum of frustration. Based on years of writing and editing experience – and years of assisting academics, consultants, engineers, managers, marketers, researchers, scientists, and other professionals with their writing tasks – this “writing guide for non-writers” should make it easier to complete articles, papers, reports, and other complex documents and avoid writer’s block.  As the writing guide takes shape, I will post selected writing tips below (and tweet tip summaries).

Check out the tips below or follow me on Twitter.  If you have questions, contact me directly.


Completing Writing Projects Competently, Confidently, and On Time

PRELIMINARY STEPS
Step 1. Plan

Step 2. Outline
Step 3. Research

WRITING STEPS
Step 4. Write
Step 5. Edit

Step 6. Review
Step 7. Format
Step 8. Proofread

FINAL STEPS
Step 9. Submit/Publish
Step 10. Follow Up

TIP  Have to write but would rather not? Spend some time planning your writing project before beginning the first draft. Getting to know your audience(s), outlining what you want to communicate, and researching (if necessary) before you write will help you proceed more effectively and efficiently..


PRELIMINARY STEPS

Step 1. Plan
TIP  Know what you are writing.  Before beginning to write, know the genre, be clear on the topic, determine what your audience needs to know, think about how to incorporate your experience and knowledge, and consider spin-off documents.

Step 2. Outline
TIP  Outline first.  A detailed and orderly outline helps focus research (if needed) and writing, and guides you through the writing project.

Step 3. Research
TIP  Keep a research log.  Accurately record source material to substantiate your work and, if needed, for a bibliography or reference list: author and interviewee names, titles, and contact information; organization names; article titles and dates; electronic media and print periodical titles, dates, and volumes; website, blog, and social media titles, dates, and URLs; presentation titles and dates; etc.


WRITING STEPS

Step 4. Write
TIP  Follow the outline.  Let the outline guide you through the first draft – section by section, subsection by subsection.   Draft text in incremental and manageable steps.

Step 5. Edit
TIP  Assess major structural elements.  Before the line-by-line edit, review the headings and introductory and summary sections and adjust as needed to solidify the document continuity.

Step 6. Review
TIP  Print the draft.  For best results, use a hard copy of the document when reviewing, even if the final version will be accessed electronically.

Step 7. Format
TIP  Clean up, reformat.  The better it looks, the better it reads, but wait to make refinements until this step – after drafting, editing, and reviewing.

Step 8. Proofread
TIP  Review a formatted, spell-checked, ready-to-submit printout in this final pass.  To better assess readability and phrasing, read aloud.


FINAL STEPS

Step 9. Submit/Publish
TIP  Review submission guidelines.  Before transmitting, mailing, or delivering a finished document, check submission protocols, such as format and file size.

Step 10. Follow Up
TIP  Develop spin-off documents.  Capitalize on the completed document by reworking it, such as for web content, marketing material, and/or a presentation.