Business Writing & Writer Writing Tip #1001: GETTING ORGANIZED

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You must define


in writing,


in one sentence!


— the problem!  


     One thing that both kinds of writing –business and literary– have in common is the need to organize first and write second.  Since I do both kinds of writing for a living, I have found a simple, low-tech system for getting organized that will minimize hi-tech, multiple-screen, cut ‘n paste operations later.

     The Green Way:

1) Get a paper-cutter.

2) Save all one-sided printouts that you would ordinarily disgard, and pile them with printed sides all facing one way.

3) Cut the sheets of paper (a few dozen) into quarters.

     The Non-Green Way:

     Buy a deck of 3×5 or 5×8 index cards (multicolor are often useful).

     Start scribbling one-word or one-sentence ideas onto individual pieces of your quartered papers (or cards) as each thought occurs to you (sometimes, with hours in between). 

     Let’s say you’re going to write a business plan for a new venture (and, for brevity’s sake, using index cards).  One card might say “Narrative Section” and another, “Financial Projections.”  Then you add separate cards to the pile: “The Competition” and “The Management Team” and “The Mission Statement” and “Objectives” and “Strategies” and “Tactics.”  But then you think that there should be “CREATIVE Objectives, Strategies and Tactics” as well as “FINANCIAL Objectives, Strategies and Tactics” and you think of defining “Objectives” with the four criteria (Specific, Realistic, Flexible, and Due-Dated) in order to keep your Objectives out of fantasyland.  [Ahem; politicians please take note!]

     But before you even establish an objective, you must define –in writing, in one sentence!– the problem (or need) that your OST’s propose to address.

     So, now you also have cards that say “Define The Problem” and “Specific” and “Realistic” and “Flexible” and “Due-Dated.”

     Whatever you end up with (and that may mean a hundred cards or more!), spread them (the cards) out on a very large tabletop . . . or even better, the floor, so you can march around them pretending to be thinking harder, which will definitely impress those who wander into your room or office!

     Then start to move them (the cards) around, consolidate them, add new ones, organize them into an outline format.  Then, tape them all together-as-a-wall-hanging-style outline and hang the whole mess on the wall.  Or copy the whole enchilada onto one piece of paper and go from there.

     The same dynamics apply to all you literary types for organizing chapters and dialogues, even pieces of poems.  The bottom line is that when you’ve captured everything in your head and put it on paper and organized it, it’s no longer running around in your head.  Aaaaah, more room to create!                                 halalpiar


One comment so far

One Comment to “Business Writing & Writer Writing Tip #1001: GETTING ORGANIZED”

  1. ErvinTWon 10 Nov 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Hal – Thanks! Nice post. T.W. Ervin

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