Saturday, December 15, 2007

Chunks, Headings, Bullets and Bold

There is a serious flaw in most of my work-related writing. It's just too long, too complicated, probably too "academic" for the target audience it's intended for. People don't just scan web pages, they scan reports. Unless you've got clear headings, bullets and every key idea is presented at the beginning of a paragraph, you might not get your point across... you might not get read. I like writing for the sake of writing and as a way or organizing my own thoughts but let's face it, in most cases, I'd like a few people to read what I'm writing. So, here's a set of writing resolutions for 2008.

1. I shall write a first draft that is as long as I want it to be.
2. I shall write a second draft that is half the length of the first draft and is presented in a scannable format.
3. I shall be prepared to present the key idea in a 15 minute presentation.
4. I shall be prepared to present it in the form of a two minute elevator pitch.
5. I shall reserve the right to refer to my first draft as the original work and call the rest derivatives.

I'm also wondering if we should start writing work-related reports in free-form haiku format. Let's start practicing with non-work related writing:

Idea, outline, draft, pages, energy, pages, stop.
Plan, pages, scenes, chapter, stop.
Schedule revisions, flow, more pages, stop.
Format, check inconsistencies, stop.
Frustrations, doubt, stop.
Diagnostic: bookus interruptus.
Sigh, followed by deliberate deep breath.
Reschedule for retirement.
Relax, read, enjoy the work of others.
... until the next urge to write.