Joe’s Writing Process
Joe is a communications and marketing manager for a non-profit. Because his organization is small, he has a very broad job description. Over the course of a single day, he might write emails to partner organizations, clients and coworkers, do research for a grant, plan a social media campaign and take minutes in a meeting. To be effective, Joe has to balance producing quality work with using his time effectively. For this reason, his writing process often changes depending on his task.
Every year, Joe’s non-profit organization sends out a letter to previous donors asking for donations. The letter tells a story about someone who has benefitted from the organization’s services. The organization expects to raise between $20,000 and $25,000 from the letter, so it’s very important.
Pre-writing: Joe begins by researching what kind of stories other organizations have told to donors. He is especially interested in what larger organizations with larger budgets are doing. Next, he has a meeting with his boss and several program coordinators to identify a client whose story should be highlighted in the letter. Joe does some research on the client, then works with a program coordinator who knows the client to come up with interview questions. Joe conducts the interview, then immediately goes to a coffee shop to sketch out his ideas for the letter while the interview is still fresh in his mind. When he gets home, he transcribes his interview notes.
Writing: Joe drafts two different versions of the letter.
Pre-Writing: Joe’s coworkers provide feedback on the two letters. Joe’s boss also shows the letters to a few former donors who now sit on the Board of Directors. They all agree on one version of the letter. Joe’s boss asks him to contact the client again to ask some follow-up questions that will make the letter more specific. Joe contacts the client again and does more research.
Revision: Joe revises his letter based on the feedback. When his boss is satisfied, he sends it to a company that specializes in designing and mailing out donations letters. He includes photos of the client to be included in the letter. Joe and his boss go back and forth with the company to come up with a final design that everyone is happy with.
Joe sends hundreds of emails in a week. Usually, he hardly has to think about them. Today, however, he receives an email from the Executive Director of another organization asking for Joe’s thoughts on an upcoming social media campaign her organization is planning. Joe is happy to help the Executive Director, but he is busy and can only spare an hour.
Pre-writing: Joe takes a look at the Executive Director’s campaign. He’s unsure about one aspect of the campaign, so he does a little bit of research. He compares the campaign to the final report from a similar campaign that he ran.
Writing: Joe has a few criticisms of the Executive Director’s campaign idea, so he chooses his words carefully. The email is long, so he includes a few headings and some bullet points to make it easier to read.
Revision: So that he can catch any mistakes, he leaves the email for a few hours. When he comes back to it, he finds a few grammar mistakes. He also rewrites the first few lines to make sure that they achieve the correct tone.