Business Writing

The writing process: pre-writing

I use a process when I write. It has three steps. In this post we’ll explore the first steps –

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Most of the tips in this series have been about the words on the page, how they are joined, and the like. But the most important thing to remember in business is that your words are there to convey a message.

If you’re not clear about your message, no amount of good writing is going to make it easy for your reader to understand.

This is where pre-writing is important. It is where you define your message.

Pre-writing has two stages:

1          Invention

2          Structure

  1. Invention

In the invention stage I note down all my ideas about the topic. I think about the audience. I jot down anything that comes into my brain about the topic. I don’t censor myself; I don’t edit ideas out as ‘stupid’ or ‘wrong’. I give my mind free rein to wander where it will. At this stage I use mind maps because I can easily draw lines to show links between ideas. Some people like lists. Use whatever works for you.

  1. Structure

Once I’ve finished inventing I look at my notes and, in most cases, the notes fall naturally into groups which form a clear structure. It might be as simple as intro, body, conclusion for a short text. For a report it could be summary, intro, idea one, supporting arguments, idea two, supporting arguments . . . recommendation. It really depends on what I’m writing.

Only when I have completed these two steps do I actually start writing. And when I do start writing, I’ve already made decisions about who I am writing for, what I am writing, and the main structure of my piece. This leaves my mind free to think of how best to express my message.

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