Some people are surprised to hear that writing with impact requires a great deal of organization and I think that word “writer” is to blame. It is a highly romantic word. It conjures a soft-focus vision of a dreamy-eyed youth shut away in a cluttered attic room with nothing but a blotty pen and a tattered notebook for company.
Organization is not romantic.
Good writing has two main components – structure and style. While the style imparts personality to your writing, it is the structure that gives it iron clad strength.
Our last post took readers through the messy but crucial process of organizing information into four key areas (Why, What, How and So What?). We tacked on a chunk of introductory information and a chunk of concluding information. Before you start knitting all that information into the glorious creation of a proper document, you have to step back and check for what’s missing. (To catch up on previous posts in this series, please check out the Overview article as well as Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Step Four for Writing with Impact.)
It sounds pretty simple but plenty of people neglect this piece. We know from studies in psychology that some people are highly motivated to solve problems – these people enjoy looking for the holes in their information. Other people find their motivation in achieving goals. These people will likely find the process of checking for what’s missing to be highly tedious.
Neither tendency is wrong – but if you are highly goal-oriented you may need to force yourself to complete this task. And let’s face it, if you have left out an important fact, argument or shade of meaning it’s a lot easier to find out before you start writing than to regret the omission at a later date.
Once you have all the information you need – and it’s all nicely organized – you can then start crafting sentences to tie it all together. At this point in my five-step process your document will practically write itself and your job is to then focus on the style issues that will make the piece coherent and expressive.
I find that writing a document this way is something like sculpting a great work of art from a large block of wood. You carefully chip and scrape away the material you don’t need and mould the remainder according to your vision of what the piece should be like; eventually the final shape emerges. The floor will be littered with messy chips of unused verbiage but the document itself will be something graceful and articulate and, actually, maybe there is something a little romantic in that concept. But the goal is to communicate clearly and that can only happen if you’re well organized and focused on ensuring your audience understands what you have to say.
What do you think — have I left anything out? Leave your comments below!
If you’d like to learn more about how I can help you create the most impact in your writing, contact me today.