At Business Writing That Counts! we believe strongly in using tools like idea mapping to outline writing assignments, or at least brainstorm and corral your main thoughts, themes and points.
Even after preparing to write, it’s so easy to get hung up on your first iteration. Often, business writing is critical to the company’s goals or the writer’s career. And receiving a hastily prepared, unedited, incomplete quarterly report should always give a manager pause.
But all business writers have deadlines for reports and other communication, plus lots of other tasks to complete during the day. It’s tougher to make writing deadlines, however, if you get hung up on making your first draft “perfect.”
In our workshops, tip sheets and coaching, we help business writers understand that good writing involves more than one step or draft. Once you get that a draft is just that – a beta version of the final document, if you will – your thoughts should flow more freely and your writing should be easier.
In your first draft, don’t fret over looking up every correct spelling of names, complete titles or even punctuation concerns. As long as the writing makes sense, you can address all of that in a revision. Use tools available, such as highlighting or comments in Microsoft Word, as placeholders or reminders that you need to check a fact or thought. Getting bogged down in details instead of noting “fixes” and moving on stifles some of your creativity and ideas. You have to be sure you get your main point across before you refine the wording.
On your first revision, fill in those blanks and move words or sentences around for better flow and clarity. You also can check spelling and grammar. Then revise it again, reading through at the speed at which your audience will read the document. That helps you spot potential misunderstandings or clarify important points. If you find yourself making lots of changes, read through it one more time for polishing.
And on that final read, pat yourself on the back for completing your writing on time and on point!