Divide Your Writing Project into Manageable Tasks

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Sometimes the worst part of writing an email, proposal, or pitch is getting started. Get over the hurdle by approaching the project as a series of manageable tasks. Poet, writer, and teacher Betty Sue Flowers envisions the steps as belonging to four different characters in your brain:

  • Madman. Start by voraciously gathering research and other materials for the project, diligently keeping track of quotations and sources.
  • Architect. Then organize the madman’s raw material into a sensible outline. Distill your ideas into three main propositions.
  • Carpenter. Following the architect’s plan, write as quickly as possible — without worrying about perfecting your prose.
  • Judge. Lastly edit, polish, and improve the piece. Do this in several distinct passes, each time focusing on only one element of your writing.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

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