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    When It Comes to Writing, Soldier Beats Knight

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010
    Once upon a time, armor-clad warriors dominated the battlefield. Individual strength and ferocity were prized. Then someone realized that a disciplined group of soldiers with pikes could defeat even the mightiest of knights, and that this approach was much more cost effective. Soldiers work together to achieve a single objective. Warriors work alone, not necessarily toward a commonly viewed goal.

    When it comes to business writing, are you a soldier or a warrior? Do you try to carry off a writing task all alone, from concept to draft to revision to editing and proofreading, or do you solicit the help of colleagues at one or more stage of the writing process?

    Frankly, you'll get a lot more done as a writing soldier than as a writing warrior.

    Imagine that you and a colleague each have a memo to write. If you approach your memos as warriors, you're both more likely to miss an unclear point in your writing, or to overlook a typographical error, even if you spend more time looking for them.

    Taking the soldier approach instead, you each draft your memo then hand it to the other for review. A fresh set of eyes can more quickly catch potential problems, which means both memos are completed more quickly and more accurately. What's more, the practice of looking at someone else's work in progress actually improves your own writing skills.

    Not convinced yet? Consider this: Even your favorite authors, who might seem to be writing warriors, laboring away alone in their attic offices, often confer with other authors when working on a project. Then, once an author has finished a draft, it goes to an editor for a review, and that editor usually sends back comments for the author to incorporate. This may happen more than once before the editor is satisfied. After that, the text goes on to one or more proofreaders to check for mechanical errors, misspellings, and incorrect punctuation.

    Honestly, it takes a small army of people to get a book into print. So why not call on a fellow soldier or two the next time you need to get something written quickly and accurately?

    - Lester Smith