Writing : three stages

Remember it is all about and for the reader.

Three stages to writing are

  • pre-writing,
  • writing and editing,
  • post-writing.

Under pre-writing you can place the following:

  • setting a goal,
  • research,
  • the plan,
  • review and
  • confirm the goal.

The writing and editing stage are what most people think about when they think about writing.  If outlines work for you, use them.  work from a suitable model (no one will care if you try to re-invent a wheel already around), ask a peer writer to review your work, ask someone who is a content expert on your subject to review your work, ask someone who matches the knowledge level of your audience to review it.  For your final rereading, try to wait at least twenty four hours, and work on other things to clear your over familiarity with the writing so you can see it with partly refreshed eyes.  Of course, if there is an inhouse style manual, follow it and check it in a separate rereading. Think of your reader through all these stages.


Post-writing is less certain. You might consider if any part of your final piece of finished writing can be recycled as a template, but the most important act is to reread your goal and check that your writing accomplishes what you set out to do.

Goal statement

What’s in your goal statement? It consists of just a few items: What is the purpose of your writing, who is your audience, how knowledgeable are they about your writing subject, after reading your writing is there something specific you want them to do and in what time-frame do you want them to do it. So your goal statement can be a short paragraph of several sentences. Take a little time thinking about it and some care in writng it. Keep it close to hand.  As you write you may want to reread it.

Deadline for completing your writing: one trick I advise you to use is a simple one.  Keep two deadlines firmly in your mind: your official hand over deadline and your private, for your eyes only, early deadline.  Aim for the second of these.  Despite your best intentions and the rigor of your time table planning, stuff happens to steal time from completing your writing piece on the day you have promised to deliver it. Set your private deadline at least three days early and if possible one full week (7 days) early from your official deadline.  Do try to get out of the habit of the stress of racing to finish, it is very bad for your health and not great for your writing.

Post-Writing and checking your goal:  Once everything is done and the work is ready on the day of your private deadline, pull out your goal statement.  Read it and consider if your writing piece fulfills it.  If not, dig back in and add or change what is needed to make them match.

Some Background

Somewhere at some time in a book on writing  I came across this three term handle for describing the writing process.  I wish I could recall where so I could cite that writer.  All the rest is distilled from my experience earning a living as a technical writer for 25 years.  It also applies to “creative writing”.  I have used it to complete several one act plays for a production at the Alumni Theatre of St. Michael’s  College at the University of Toronto a long time ago.  A play called Grass and Snow was ready before rehearsals and opening night, but only just.

A lot of ideawilliam_zinsser_on_writing_well.larges about writing can be found in books on the subject of writing.  Please buy some if not most at full price, but I used to haunt the remainder tables of independent
bookstores in Toronto.  Stores like Edwards had large remainder tables.  Often various business and writing books were set out.  Over the years I have purchased some fifty titles on the subject.  Some good, some bad.  Perhaps the best I came across was On Writing by William Zinsser.  Seek it out, you will be rewarded.


Above all else, give yourself enough time to do good work.

a few words to ponder in the pool of knowledge and information

documentation (dòk´ye-mèn-tâ¹shen) noun
1. a. The act or an instance of the supplying of documents or supporting references or records. b. The documents or references so supplied.
2. The collation, synopsizing, and coding of printed material for future reference.
3. Computer Science. The organized collection of records that describe the structure, purpose, operation, maintenance, and data requirements for a computer program.

Evidence: evidence (noun)
evidence, facts, data, biodata, curriculum vitae, résumé, case history
grounds, REASONS
premises, PREMISE
hearsay, hearsay evidence, REPORT
indirect evidence, collateral evidence, secondary evidence
circumstantial evidence, CIRCUMSTANCE
constructive evidence, SUPPOSITION
prima facie evidence
internal evidence, presumptive evidence, direct evidence, demonstrative evidence, final evidence, conclusive evidence, proof, ironclad proof, DEMONSTRATION supporting evidence, corroboration

verification, confirmation, CERTAINTY
rebutting evidence, COUNTEREVIDENCE
one-sided evidence, ex parte evidence
piece of evidence, fact, relevant fact
document, exhibit, fingerprints, DNA fingerprinting, genetic fingerprinting, RECORD
clue, HINT
symptom, syndrome, sign, sure sign, INDICATION
mention, reference, quotation, citation, chapter and verse
one’s authorities, documentation line of evidence, chain of authorities,authority, scripturality, canonicity

Demonstrate demonstration 
demonstration, logic of facts, documentation, authentication, EVIDENCE
proven fact, TRUTH
proof, rigorous proof
establishment, conclusive proof, final proof
conclusiveness, irrefragability, CERTAINTY
verification, ascertainment, EXPERIMENT
deduction, inference, argument, triumph of argument, REASONING
exposition, clarification, MANIFESTATION
burden of proof, onus probandi, onus

Record: record (noun)
record, recording, documentation
historical record, acta, memoir, chronicle, annals, history, NARRATIVE
biographical record, case history, résumé, curriculum vitae, C.V., BIOGRAPHY
photograph, portrait, sketch, REPRESENTATION
file, dossier, rogues’ gallery
public record, gazette, official journal, Congressional Record
official publication, blue book, white paper
recorded material, transcript, minutes, transactions
notes, annotations, marginalia, versaria, jottings, clippings, press cuttings

memorabilia, memorandum, memo, REMINDER
reports, annual report, returns, tax returns, statements, REPORT
tally, scoresheet, scoreboard
evidentiary record, form, document, muniment
voucher, certificate, diploma, charter, CREDENTIAL
birth certificate, death certificate, marriage certificate, TITLE DEED
copy, spare copy, carbon copy, Xerox™, facsimile, fax, DUPLICATE
documentation, records, files, archives, papers, correspondence

record, book, roll, register, registry, cartulary
tablet, table, notebook, memo pad, logbook, log, daybook, diary, journal, commonplace book, scrapbook, album

ledger, cashbook, checkbook, ACCOUNT BOOK
catalog, index, waiting list, LIST
card, index card, microfilm, microfiche, MINIATURE
tape, computer tape, DATA PROCESSING
magnetic tape, pressing, RECORD PLAYER
inscription, legend, caption, heading, INDICATION

wall writing, graffiti, SCRIPT


document (dòk¹ye-ment) noun
Abbr. doc.
1. a. A written or printed paper that bears the original, official, or legal form of something and can be used to furnish decisive evidence or information. b. Something, such as a recording or a photograph, that can be used to furnish evidence or information. c. A writing that contains information.
2. Something, especially a material substance such as a coin bearing a revealing symbol or mark, that serves as proof or evidence.
verb, transitive
documented, documenting, documents (-mènt´)
1. To furnish with a document or documents.
2. To support (an assertion or a claim, for example) with evidence or decisive information.
3. To support (statements in a book, for example) with written references or citations; annotate.

[Middle English, precept, from Old French, from Latin documentum, example, proof, from docêre, to teach.]
– doc´ument¹al (-mèn¹tl) adjective