January Chapter Meeting: Project Manage Your Writing

by Ron Arner

Over 30 people came to our chapter meeting on January 15th with the expectation of learning how to project manage their writing, and Dr. Bette Frick didn’t disappoint.

Bette Frick, PhD, recently announced STC Associate Fellow, and veteran technical communicator, led the audience through both familiar and not-so-familiar concepts as she outlined a strategy for applying the concepts of project management to writing. Although the presentation was designed for managing staff writing projects, these concepts can be applied to any size project or team, from the basics of writing to creating style guides.

For those unfamiliar with project management, it’s a science with very strict processes and procedures that are usually performed in the following sequential stages:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Controlling
  5. Closing

Dr. Frick took the five standard project management processes listed above and turned them into 10 principles to help guide writers through the writing process:

  1. Do no harm
  2. Respect and encourage use of writing process
  3. Set objective standards
  4. Adopt style conventions
  5. Communicate #3 and #4 to writers
  6. Set and communicate realistic timelines
  7. Offer positive feedback, then negative
  8. Recognize and reward good writing
  9. Evaluate your management process
  10. Continue to improve your writing skills

Each of the steps above was explained in great detail. From things familiar to all writers, like a five stage process that starts with prewriting and ends with proofreading, to things that are less familiar like Gantt charts, the evening was filled with good information, advice, and interactive activity.

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several presentations given by Dr. Frick. Since I am personally very interested in project management, I found this one to be one of the most enjoyable. Regardless of your interests, this presentation demonstrated how truly effective writers branch out and try new skills in order to perfect their writing and work smarter rather than harder.

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