Professional Writing: Process and Situation

Introduction To Professional Writing


Research done by the English department shows that most professionals do more writing on the job than they ever anticipated.  Furthermore, that writing is important to their success on the job and their career advancement.

The writing in this course, like writing on the job, is practical writing, aimed at a specific audience with a specific goal in mind.  If you have work experience, or  real-world projects from other courses, or realistic cases you are solving in your major course work, I encourage you to use the experience and/or case as writing projects in this course.


Writing in the World of Work

As Process

Some best-selling books would have you believe that writing is a matter of simple skills:  Seven Tricks for a Perfect Memo, or Thirty Minutes to Excellence in Reporting.

Though writing “tips” can be helpful, and skills can be learned, effective communication is not quite that simple. Writing is a complex process. It embodies three overlapping and recurring subroutines: prewriting,  writing, and  revising.  Understanding the subroutines and using them effectively can make the whole process more efficient.

Writing as a Situation Response

A cursory reading of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal makes it obvious that most offices are busy places.  Both writers and readers have hectic schedules.  They don’t want to write or read without a specific purpose.

That means most business writing is purposeful, is action-oriented, and part of a cycle of action.  Action is taken when the situation arises that calls for it.  In this way, we can see writing at work as a social activity, an action that we perform because something has happened within the work community or corporate culture that calls for writing. When the call comes, we respond–writing as a situation response.

Process | Situation Response