“Just Step Away from the Keyboard.”

In every proposal development process, writing is an important task.  But as John C. Lauderdale – the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Government Contracts (2009) – points out, there are some tried and true maxims that you should follow to write well.

Below are four important maxims on proposal writing:

  • Few people do anything completely right the first time.
  • Proposal quality is greatly improved by a structured, disciplined review of the writing process.
  • In a well-run proposal development process, the first casualty should be everyone’s ego.
  • No one should ever say that “my work is so good that it does not need to be reviewed by anyone else.”

A good way to address these maxims is to follow nine simple but critical steps:

Step 1:  Outline first.

Step 2:  Review next.

Step 3:  Revise your outline.

Step 4:  Have your outline reviewed and approved.

Step 5:  Begin identifying good graphics to support your outline.

Step 6:  Now write.

Step 7:  Have your writing reviewed.

Step 8:  Review constructive advice about revision.

Step 9:  Rewrite.

Step 10:   Repeat Steps 6 through 9 until you are either highly satisfied or highly sick of your proposal.

Good proposal writing is an iterative process, and it involves stepping away from your keyboard as much as it does keystroking.  Premature writing is a prime example of “ready-fire-aim!”  Writing without outlining and reviewing will lead to a false and dangerous sense of progress.  It also will result in inferior prose.

As Lauderdale wisely notes, before you can write you must develop a process for developing your proposal.  You cannot begin writing until you understand the content and direction of your proposal, which will come through the development process.

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