Writing requires methodology, at least if you intend to publish something a little bigger than a blog post. A common mistake authors make is that they just start writing. This is like driving down a country road without being sure where you are going. After a while, you will become disoriented trying to decide whether the content should be here, there, or somewhere else. The end result is likely to be complicated and the time and effort required will be much greater.

Proper planning requires a top-down approach, similar to the planning approach used in software engineering. It will save you time and produce a better result. These are the essential steps.

  1. objective

  2. Investigate

  3. Audience

  4. Scheme

  5. happy

  6. Presentation

  7. Check


Write down the purpose of your writing assignment, it will help you focus your mind. What are you trying to achieve and why?


It goes without saying that you should know something about your topic. Find all the information you can gather on the Internet, in magazines or books. Write what is relevant to the purpose of your writing project.


Define your audience. It is essential that you know who you are writing for as it determines the structure, language and content. Are you writing for children or adults, a technical or non-technical audience, a superior audience, a group of peers, or a subordinate group of people? Maybe your audience is unknown?

  • If you write for a higher audience, you may need to start your document with an executive summary. Use it to identify your written purpose and what conclusions or recommendations you intend to make, then use the rest of your document to argue your case.

  • If you write for a subordinate audience, you must decide whether the content is instructional or informational in nature. Instructional writing requires a different style than informational writing.

  • If you write for a group of peers, you must accept that your audience members may know more than you about the material you are presenting, or they may know less. You should adopt a less authoritative tone in the way you express yourself and possibly invite comments.


An outline is a blueprint for the structure of your document and an essential step in organizing your content. If you are the creative type, you could start with brainstorming. Use a text editor and write down everything that comes to mind. When you’re done, classify the content into a logical document structure. Review your outline and add problems as they occur to you. If you are the methodical type, structure your document in titles and subheadings, then make the appropriate comments under each title about the content you want to include.

Don’t write your final content now and don’t worry about the language at this stage. Just focus on the topics you want to include. Make sure there is a logical flow in your outline and a proper sequence in the information you present. Does each problem or question you raise lead to an explanation or discussion about its relevance or solution?

What you should have now is a document outline.


With your outline complete, you are now in a much better position to fill in the details and write the actual content. Follow the outline of the document you have prepared and now focus on presenting your content in clear and simple language. Avoid long, wordy paragraphs, accept that readers are more likely to browse your document rather than read it in detail. Long paragraphs are not appreciated. If you present a series of points or problems, write them as a bulleted list or a numbered list. If appropriate, end your writing with a short summary of the main points you have tried to convey.


You don’t need to worry about the presentation until you have completed the actual content. Now you can decide how your document will look. Now you can finalize the following details:

  • Document size.

  • Background color and borders.

  • Selection of fonts for the body of the text and the lists.

  • Selection of font, color and size for different titles.

  • Inclusion of images and their location in your document.

  • Headers and footers.


A final and essential step in your writing process is to spell check and proofread your document. The spell checker can do this right away, but I advise you to take a break before checking. We have a tendency to stare blindly at our own writing, not noticing obvious little mistakes. Rest and review with a fresh mind, not once, but preferably a couple of times.

A final precaution

Save your work regularly. Rewriting a document you have lost is much more difficult because you will focus on remembering what you last wrote and this blocks the creative process.