Women Writers Forum All about the art and business of writing
Revisiting Writing as a Grownup: on Technical and Not-so-technical Writing
Ed will present a common-sense approach to improving your writing. We will first focus on the process of writing to help you go from the blank page to a good first draft. Then we will dive into the revision process, focusing on paragraphs, sentences, and words. Ed has a number of tips and techniques to help you at each stage of the process. Each writer will receive a handbook with reference guides and checklists.
Commit to Iterate. It’s the way the process works. In my workshops for accountants, auditors, and other business people, I often hear this plea: “Ed, just give me the algorithm and I’ll plug in the data and out will come the writing.” Unfortunately, writing doesn’t work that way. Unlike the quantitative processes that many of you use every day, writing is highly iterative. The writer returns many times to the document to revise it, each time with a different focus. It’s crucial to commit to iterate and reiterate!
We go through at least four different mental processes. Writing can’t be done in one draft because we go through a number of different mental processes. We’ll talk about one breakdown of the process into four stages. And we’ll talk about our junior high teachers who made us feel stupid for not getting it “right” the first time.
Who are your readers? What do they need from you? Planning for our readers is an essential part of our task. Are they serial or scanning readers? What do they need to know? Is our writing well organized, and is that organization apparent to the reader? Can they navigate quickly through the document? Do they have all the time in the world?
Drive the meaning to the front of the document, section, paragraph, and sentence. This is a new idea that can help you as you revise. Using “deductive logic” can be very helpful in all kinds of technical writing. This means as you revise, push the meaning to the top of each document, each section, each paragraph, and even each sentence. Write like a journalist.
Getting to the first draft. We’ll look at some tricks to help you get to the first draft—mind maps and whirlybirds. These non-linear organizational tools help you get to the outline (a linear organizational tool) and then the first draft.
Then what. We’ll spend most of our time looking at how to revise the first and later drafts—making sure the reader can quickly grasp the organization and writing effective paragraphs, sentences, and words. Also, I’ll suggest a new way of reviewing your drafts using a segmented approach.
Ed Gold has more than 35 years of experience helping people in government, business, and associations write more clearly to their many audiences. Ed has served the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); U.S. Department of Defense; Deloitte Consulting; U.S. Department of the Treasury; Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; Societe Generale Bank; Citibank; Chase Manhattan Bank; IBM; AARP; National Institutes of Health; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; National Science Foundation; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; and many others.
For the last ten years, Ed has focused on writing and editing for the oversight community, working with investigators, auditors, and inspectors to communicate clearly to decision-makers in Congress and the general public, conforming with the highest professional standards. He has served GAO and a number of Inspectors General with all phases of the editing process—from first to final draft—including mind-mapping, outlining, drafting, revising, final proofing. Ed edits proposals and has a special emphasis on plain English writing.