Why the Writing Process is a Great Tool for Decision-making

A CTO client of mine recently referenced another writer with whom he was working on a twenty-page RFP. 

"Of course I have to rewrite about half of it, like always," he lamented. My client is, indeed, a good writer himself, so my immediate reaction was, "Oh, that other writer must suck. Too bad for them." 

Then I took a beat and realized the odds were high that if my client—a leader in a well-positioned company—was hiring a writer, the other writer was likely vetted. And hence, a good writer. 

Whether my client realized it, he wasn't referring to grammar, punctuation, and order; rather his remarks pointed to the tough decisions inherent to arranging words on a page. 

Taking and explaining a position so others will join your vision ... be convinced ... believe in you ... is hard work, and seeing words come back "wrong" is often the confrontation needed to make corrections and get the message right.  

Words spoken slip by like a vapor. They can range from hyperbolic to self-conscious, and in a conversation the listener can roll their eyes, stop listening, ignore, or not even unwittingly embrace words that sound substantial but aren't. 

But words written—at least with lasting authority—must be defensible and balanced. 

That's what I mean when I tell people that the writing process is a tool for professional discovery. Not to mention a tool for interview prep, or public speaking prep, or even internal problem solving around career choices.  

When you're forced to answer questions under the bright light of reality, assuming you're reasonable, you face yourself warts and all. Ninety eight percent of the people with whom I've worked over the years have had self-confronting, a-ha moments on the road to presenting clear and coherent stories.

Perhaps that's why some later report that the writing process is like therapy. The work isn't based on therapeutic principles; I'm not a therapist and I don't know much about therapy, generally. Rather the work required to get clarity seems to force the subject (client) to confront themselves. Decision-making and forward-facing self-reflection all at once. 

If you write for or on behalf of others, embrace this tricky space. Don't take offense when your subject doesn't instantly love your work. Unless you're not a good writer. In that case, realize that we should all push to grow and improve. 

If you're working with a writer, get comfortable with the ambiguity, uncertainty, and occasional fear that can accompanies good, clear, and unobscured writing. Every decision along the way—major or minor—is essential to turning word soup into a clear message.