Many people struggle greatly with writing reports and essays. From developing topics, to conducting research, to formulating their non-fiction documents, the process of writing reports and essays can be such an unwelcome task that some people consider it a cruel punishment.
Here are five successful strategies I have used with many professionals and students that can serve as a stepping stone to transforming these experiences of dread into confidence:
Strategy 1: Research. Regardless if one is writing fiction or nonfiction, the author must do sufficient research to provide substantial background for the work ahead. This research can take many forms, depending on the type of writing, but it is absolutely necessary to have deep, broad information to provide full detail and accuracy in the account.
Strategy 2: Determine Your Angle. Once you, the author, have the information, it is critical to determine your unique perspective or angle to approach the topic. How will you introduce your reader to this portrayal in unique way which will sustain his attention through a compelling account? Developing such an approach is a vital starting point.
Strategy 3. Discovering Your Concept Maps. In order to determine your unique approach, it may be helpful to write key points of information on paper or digital note cards. Examine the information and look for trends, patterns, and groupings of themes or topics. See if you can envision ways the information can be arranged to present it clearly and fully to the readers. In this manner, you may discover your unique angle, and certainly a good start on Strategy 4.
Strategy 4. Organize Your Work; Outline is not a nasty word! Our fourth grade teachers taught us to use outlines for our writing, but we all try to find a shortcut. After about five books and over 100 published articles and papers, I finally gave in and realized my teachers were right. Before I start writing in earnest, I now create a tentative outline that will morph with my work. It provides indispensable guidance and framing of my many hours of work. Colleagues I have worked with have found this approach equally as beneficial, and I expect you will as well.
Strategy 5. Cyclical Writing. The strategy of cyclical writing is a surprise to many professionals and students. Many people believe they must write documents from beginning to end in their entirety. Instead, I have found it very successful and rewarding to work through the outline in a cyclical manner. The first time through, I do a few sentences for each outline point; then maybe the next time through, I write a paragraph on each point. Finally, I begin settling down to write in different areas. By approaching the writing process in his manner, it keeps me focused on the big picture, the entire flow of the piece. Otherwise, the sections might become disjointed if two months are spent on one chapter before finally moving to the next. By working through all of the chapters and points repeatedly (iteratively) authors can weave together the style, voice, and flow of the content, details, and the plot or message.