Module 4: Planning, Writing, and Revising
January 27 2012
- Analyzing the situation: what has the client asked for? Specifically, what is the assignment?
- Defining your purposes, and analyzing your audience needs.
- Thinking about the information: what “proof” will you need, and where can you find it?
- Gathering information – Through your own and others’ observations and experiences, from the internet, from
- Making notes, creating outlines, considering how to organize the information: are you writing in an academic or
a business context? What are the reader’s expectations? What do your audiences already know?
What is the Writing Process?
- Putting notes on paper or on the screen.
- Can include purpose statements, visuals, lists, dot jots, stream-of-consciousness thoughts or a formal draft.
- Assessing your work by measuring it against your criteria: What are your goals, and what are the requirements
of the situation and the audience? You get the best results by seeing the draft from the reader’s point of view: is
it clear? Complete? Convincing? Tactful?
- Getting continuous feedback: Ask peers and colleagues to comment. Does it make sense? Does it flow? Is the
organization appropriate and reader-friendly? Is the information convincing? What about mechanics – grammar
- Deleting, adding, substituting, rearranging: rewriting can be changing large sections of the document, or revising
sentences of single words.
- Editing the draft. Here you correct spelling and mechanical errors, and check word choice and format. Editing
focuses on the surface of writing.
- Proofing the final copy to ensure it’s error-free.
Note about the writing process: - Do not have to necessarily follow these activities in order.
- Do not have to finish one activity to start another.
- May do an activity several times for the same document.
Does it matter what Process I use?
- Know what the experts do, and use what works best for you.
- Experienced writers tend to:
Focus on their purpose and audience
Identify a story, thesis, theme or central idea related to their purpose and audience.
Assume that the first draft will be revised.
Break big writing jobs into a series of steps
Work to acquire a large vocabulary of concrete nouns and action verbs.
Discuss their writing with others
Ask for and apply feedback
Use a reader for revising, editing and proofing
Use whatever rules work for them.
How Should I use my time?
- Make notes on your research and thinking. Save plenty of time for rewriting.
- To get the best results, try:
Use only 1/3 of your time on composing your first time.
Spent at least 1/3 of your time analyzing your purpose(s) and audience(s). gathering your
information and organizing what you want to say.
Keep notes (electronic and hardcopy) on all your information.
1/3 time revising and editing: assess your draft based on your analysis of purpose and audience.
Revise, get feedback and revise again.
Total Time: 6 Hours
Planning 1.5 hours
Understand the policy.
Answer the PAIBOC questions (Module 1).
Think about document design (Module 5).
Organize the message.
Writing 1.5 hours
Create a draft.
Revising 3.0 hours
Measure draft against PAIBOC questions and against principles of business communication.
Ask for feedback. Revise draft based on feedback.
Edit to catch grammatical errors.
Run spell check.
Proof by eye.
Duplicate and distribute document.
What Planning should I do to Prepare to write or speak?
- Do as much planning as you can, and keep a record.
- The more familiar you are with your ideas, the fewer drafts you’ll need to produce a good document.
- Brainstorm: Write down all your ideas without judging them. Consciously try to get at least a dozen different
ideas before you stop.
- Freewrite: make yourself write, without stopping for 10 minutes or so, even if you have to write “I will think of
something soon.” At the end of 10minutes, read what you’ve written and identify the best point in the draft. Get
a clean paper or screen and write for another 10 uninterrupted minutes. Read this draft, marking anything that’s
good and should be kept, and then write for another 10 minutes. By the third session, you will probably produce
several sections that are work keeping – maybe even a complete draft that’s ready to be revised.
- Cluster: Write your topic in the middle of the page and circle it. Write down the ideas the topic suggests, circling
them too. (The circles are designed to tap into the nonlinear half of your brain.) When you’ve filled the page,
look for patterns or repeated ideas. Use different-coloured pens to group related ideas. Then use these ideas to
develop reader benefits in a memo, questions for a survey or content for the body of a report.
- Talk to your audiences: Research shows that talking to internal and external audiences is invaluable. Talking to
real audiences helped writers involve readers in the planning process, understand social and political
relationships among readers, and negotiate conflicts orally rather than depending solely on the document.
- Letters and memos will go faster if you can visualize a basic organized pattern before you start.
- Planning guides guides developed for specific kinds of documents.
What is revision? How Do I do it?
- Revision means seeing the document new, from the reader’s point of view.
- Writers make their drafts better by revising, editing, and proofreading from the reader’s point of view.
o Revising: means making changes that will better satisfy your purposes and your audience.
o Editing means making surface-level changes that make the document grammatically correct.