What Writing Is Not • Something mysterious done according to a magical formula known only to a few • It’s true that some people seem to have a natural talent for writing, but writing is a skill that can be learned with practice. • A hit or miss affair • Writing takes work, effort, and time. • Permanent or unchangeable • Writing requires rewriting, revising, and rethinking. A good document changes many times before it reaches its final form.
What Writing Is • Something that changes as your thoughts and information change • Often, you discover your thoughts as you are writing, and your document takes a new direction. • A process that • Takes time • Requires a number of judgment calls • Needs many revisions
The Writing Process • The writing process includes: • Researching • Planning • Drafting • Revising • Editing • Inexperienced writers spend almost all of their time drafting, and they shortchange (or skip) the other steps. • Good writers allow themselves the time to consider every step of the process.
Researching • For all documents, you should research your audience. • Are they experts? Technicians? General employees? Vendors? Customers? • Will your message be routed to different departments? • What’s your audience’s purpose for reading your message? • What kind of information does your audience need? Why? • What format will be suitable for your audience? • What is an appropriate scope for your message? (Should it be one page or twenty pages?)
Researching • Depending on your audience, message, and scope, you can research by: • Interviewing people • Collaborating with colleagues • Distributing a questionnaire • Reviewing print and Web references
Planning • In this step, your goal is to get something—anything!—down on paper or on your computer screen. • It is always easier to clarify and fix something you can see. • Also, this step is MUCH easier if you have conducted adequate research.
Planning Techniques 1. Clustering • In the center of a blank sheet of paper, write the word or phrase that best describes your topic. • Next, start writing other related words or phrases that come to mind. • As you write, circle each word or phrase and connect it with a line to the idea to which it relates.
Clustering Childcare arrangements easier Adaptable to individual lifestyle Happier employees Employee advantages Topic FLEX TIME Employer advantages Avoid rush hour traffic Easier to do business with global companies Always someone in office 7am-5pm
Planning Techniques 2. Brainstorming • Brainstorming is like thinking aloud except that you are recording your thoughts. • Describe your topic in a word or phrase. • List any information you know or found out about your topic. • Do this in any order and as quickly as you can. • Don’t stop to delete, rearrange, or rewrite anything.
Planning Techniques 2. Brainstorming (continued) • Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, or sentence structure. • Try to keep writing constantly. • Take a short break after 10 to 15 minutes, then make changes to your list. • Expect to add some ideas or combine or rearrange others as you start to develop them in more detail.
Planning Techniques 3. Outlining • It is NOT necessary to use the formal outline structure (Roman numerals, etc.) that traumatized you in the eighth grade. • At first, jot down a few major points and identify a few subpoints. • As you refine your ideas, make clearer the relationships between main points and subpoints.
Summary of Planning Techniques • Use the method that works best for you. • You may want to experiment with different techniques until you find your own style. • You may want to use a combination of techniques. • However, most writers find that an outline is the easiest plan to translate quickly into a draft.
Drafting • Drafting converts the words and phrases from your outlines, brainstorms, or clustered groups into paragraphs. • Inexperienced writers believe that one draft is all they need. • Skilled writers recognize that several drafts are required to create a high-quality document.
Guidelines forSuccessful Drafting • Select a comfortable place to write. • In an early draft, write the easiest part first, regardless of where in the paper it may finally end up. • It’s often easier to write the middle of a message before you compose the introduction. • Allow enough time between drafts so you can evaluate your work with fresh eyes and a clear mind.
Guidelines forSuccessful Drafting (continued) • Do not worry too much about spelling, punctuation, or word choice. • Allow yourself time to fix these issues later. • Get frequent outside opinions. • Consider whether visuals will enhance the quality of your work and where to put them.
Revising • Revision is done after you produce a draft you think conveys the appropriate message for your audience. • Avoid drafting and revising in one sitting. • If possible, wait at least a day before revising. • Ask a co-worker or friend familiar with your topic to comment on your work. • Plan to read your revised work more than once.
Revision is Rethinking Resee Rethink Reconsider Your entire document Revision is a pointless step if you’re too stubbornly attached to your draft to change anything at this point.
Editing • Editing is the last stage in the writing process. • It is done only after you are completely satisfied that you have said what you want to, where and how you intended. • Editing is quality control for your reader.
Editing • When you edit, you will check your work for • Sentences • Word choices • Punctuation • Spelling • Grammar and usage
Editing Guidelines for Writing Lean and Clear Sentences • Three common problems cited by readers of occupational writing: • The sentences are too long. • I could not follow the writer’s meaning. • The sentences are too complex. • I had to reread several times to understand what the writer meant. • The sentences are unclear. • I am not sure I understood the writer’s message.
Editing Guidelines for Cutting Out Unnecessary Words • Your readers are busy, and unnecessary words slow them down. • In occupational writing, your goal is write as little as possible while still clearly communicating your intended meaning and purpose. • When editing your writing, cut out all unnecessary words.
Wordy at a slow rate be in agreement with bring to a conclusion come to terms with due to the fact that for the purpose of feel quite certain about Concisely Edited slowly agree conclude, end agree, accept because to believe Examples of Commonly Used Wordy Phrases
Redundant absolutely essential close proximity eradicate completely exposed opening final conclusions personal opinion over and done with Concise essential proximity, nearness eradicate opening conclusions opinion over Examples of Commonly Used Redundant Expressions
Editing Guidelines to Eliminate Sexist Language • Sexist language offers a distorted view of our society and discriminates in favor of one sex at the expense of another, usually women. • Sexist language can • Offend and demean female readers • Brand you as sexist and biased • Decrease the effectiveness and persuasiveness of any points you are trying to make • Cost your company business
Sexist chairman craftsman divorcée freshman week maiden name mankind manpower Neutral chairperson, chair skilled worker divorced person orientation week family name humanity strength, power Avoiding Sexist Language Replace sexist words with neutral ones
Avoiding Sexist Language 2. Avoid using the masculine pronouns (he, his, him) when referring to a group that includes both men and women. Sexist:Every worker must submit his travel expenses by Monday. You can edit sexist language in several ways. • Workers must submit their travel expenses by Monday. • Every worker must submit travel expenses by Monday. • Every worker must submit his or her travel expenses by Monday.
Avoiding Sexist Language 3. Eliminate sexist salutations • Dear Sir, Gentlemen, Dear Madam • It is best to write to a person, but you may direct your letter to a particular department or office. • Dear Warranty Department • Dear Selection Committee • If addressing a woman, it is preferable to write Dear Ms. McCarty rather than Dear Miss or Mrs. McCarty. • If in doubt, write Dear Indira Kumar
Avoiding Sexist Language 4. Never single out a person’s physical appearance. Sexist:The manager is a thin blonde who received her training at Mason Technical Institute. Remember:Occupational writing is about facts, not impressions. References to physical appearance are not appropriate identifiers.