Principle 2: BRING ORDER FROM CHAOS
Are the designs you submit for approval to a client generally a rough draft or a the spur-of-the-moment idea that you sketched quickly and handed over to your a client without refining it? It’s doubtful. Likely, you thought about who would be looking at it and how you’d like your viewers to react, mused over its proportions and emphasis worked with both its positive and negative spaces and then reviewed and revised your results to improve it. In other words, you took your design through a process of planning, drafting, and revision to maximize its impact according to your intent. Effective business writing works the same way. A simple sales letter, for instance, takes a lot of work to write well. (Remember it’s only a successful communication if the reader takes in the information and reacts as you hoped she would.) Designer Mark Cain agrees. “One of the hardest things to develop is a good business letter,” he says. “It can take all day to write a good letter; it’s a laborious process. Dump thoughts down, get the flow, and then put in the sales copy.” It all begins, of course, with a reader analysis. Following that most important first step are six more stages. 1. Decide what, if anything, you need to research. (See page 35 for research strategies.) 2. Choose your most appropriate writing format. • E-mail • Letter • Memo • Proposal • Report 3. Begin setting down your thoughts and ideas. We all have different preferences for the beginning stage of writing. Here are four of the most common ways to quick-start your drafts. • Mindmapping. In this method, you start writing words and phrases from the center of the page, outward. Write related ideas, and details, and connect them in clustered groups. The advantages of clustering are its encouragement of nonlinear thinking and its focus on the visual aspects of the writing process (you can see what ideas are related). It’s a good thought-processing method for right-brained creative types. • Brainstorming. This is a method where you don’t concern yourself with sentence structure, spelling, grammar, tone, or any of the issues that are best left for the revision and editing stage. Just start listing your thoughts in the order they come to mind. Write fragments of sentences or single words or phrases. Don’t edit. Don’t delete. Don’t rearrange. Don’t worry. The idea is to record it all. Keep the ideas coming. You may find yourself repeating an idea but just go with it. Later you can decide what items to keep. Give yourself about ten minutes for this activity, and then take a break. When you return to your list, review it, and decide what needs deleting or combining. You’ll also be able to add new items.