Part I: Planning is the Most Important Part of Editing

Project Management

Welcome to the first of a four part series (1, 2, 3, 4) on Technical Writing and Editing.

When I worked at a law firm, I would find ways to add writing into my job. It didn’t matter that I was adding weight to my workload; I wanted to write, edit, and research. Creating the firm’s manuals and style guides was intensive but also incredibly rewarding. For the first time, in a long time, I went home fulfilled.

I applied to Technical Writing because of this passion. I wanted a career where I could write professionally but also apply my new learning styles to creative writing. There was no reason that Technical Writing and Creative Writing needed to be dissimilar.

Technical writing is sometimes defined as simplifying the complex… technical writing involves communicating complex information to those who need it to accomplish some task or goal.
TechWhirl, What is Technical Writing?

Communication is the central concept for both Technical and Creative Writing. How to best reach the audience is always the end goal. The best way to meet audience expectation is by creating a well-written, well-researched, and well-edited document.

Creative writing is often seen as endless revisions. This shouldn’t be the case. Starting a project without a solid plan can increase revision time and drastically impact the structure of the story. After finishing the first draft, how many writers have completely rewritten their novel to change the point-of-view from 3rd person to 1st?

The levels of project management in Technical Writing are very similar to the planning and drafting processes for Creative Writing. Unlike most writers, who hope to send the final proofreading and publication stages to a publishing company, Technical Writers may have to oversee the release of a document.
Technical Writing chart

When planning a novel or short story, the drafting and editing process can take on a similar management schedule.
Creative writing chart

Before writing, step back and approach your story from a project management perspective. Is there information you need before writing, what does your schedule look like, what’s a manageable output? Planning is the most important part of editing because it informs the editing process. You’re analysing the completeness of your story, the preferences of the audience, and the tropes of the genre before putting pen to paper. You’re setting a schedule to structure the drafting and editing phases. You’re also creating milestones, which are goal posts and signals that it’s time to celebrate a little.

More than editing, planning is the most important stage for any document. Just because you’re writing something fictional, doesn’t mean you should skimp on the planning. By understanding the format of your story (novel, short story, flash), you’ll be able to determine the amount of research needed.

Learn more about applying Technical Writing to editing on Part II: Applying Your Learning Style to Editing