Writing assignments often make their best impact in a succinct form. I struggle with this at times, so have crafted a process which helps me limit my wordiness.
Begin with a brain dump
The data/information collection stage is really where I allow myself the practice of TMI (too much information.) I begin each writing assignment by taking copious notes. Whether from interviews, internet searches, or even personal knowledge, it all gets written down. I make sure to keep my notes organized to easily identify the source of each piece of information since I usually capture a lot. I also not when two sources say relatively the same thing in case I need to corroborate information. This process gives me a complete picture of my subject and enough knowledge to build out my writing assignment without having to pause, mid-thought, and look something up.
Give yourself time to mull it all over
Once notes are done, I let them sit for as close to a day as possible. Everything that I’ve written down is also sitting in my head at this point, so I spend this time thinking about my content while going about my regular business. I may even mentally write a few sentences or start combining bits of information under subheads. As the information stews, the piece really begins to come together, making it easier to sit down and…
Your first draft will never be perfect, so don’t write it like it has to be. Say everything, but focus on organizing what you’re writing so the piece flows well. Begin weeding out unnecessary information from your notes as you pull a complete draft together. Make sure to write a full draft of your piece before looking back to edit.
Make the cuts and tidy up — Revisions
I take a two-pronged approach tor revising, checking for spelling and grammar at the same time I’m tightening up and tweaking sentences. While I don’t often cut a lot of content, I do spend time restructuring sentences and swapping out words to minimize the fluff.
The primary objectives during revisions should be enhancing flow and readability. I mainly achieve this by limiting the use of passive voice and word repetition. Sometimes, passive voice just sounds best, but not always. Too many passive sentences can slow your reader down. They may lose interest before finishing your piece. Word repetition is easily handled thanks to thesaurus.com.
Know when you’re really done
You’ll get to a point during the revision process when you’re either totally happy with what you’ve written or completely sick of it. Congratulations! You’re done. Now it’s time for another set of eyes to review your work. Most likely this is your client, and they’ll usually have edits or comments for you. I usually factor into my rates one round of revisions since it’s pretty common to be asked to make a few tweaks. My rule of thumb for edits is to say ‘yes’ to them all as long as they make sense. Most clients know the content better than you and are suggesting changes for accuracy or to better align with their brand. Don’t push back too hard.
Once the final edits are in, your piece is ready for publication. You did it!
Image from pixababy