When there is writing to be done, most people expect some magic to happen. The mystique surrounding the creative process is powerful. There is no magic, though. Setting words on the page is a process and having a plan is key.
Very early on in the development process, your team must capture the expectations for the project. Ask some simple questions:
- What are we writing about and why?
- What do we accomplish by writing about this topic?
- What are the expectations for this document?
These questions give rise to many others; answering them brings your mandate into focus and guides the development process. No single person has all the information to write the piece. Knowing what is needed, the team can gather the pieces that make up the whole document.
The discussion about the goals and expectations has other benefits. The discussion—whether in meetings, by email, or other channels—guides the formation of a team. In the process, you identify who the main contributors are. You become aware of factors such as time frames, tools, and challenges, that have an impact on the project.
The third of 10 laws of collaborative writing limits the risk in your project. Without a plan, you’ll have a haphazard, meandering process with no clear objective. It will be hard to know when you’ve finished. Ask the right questions, and your team will be on course to success.