How to Prepare for Any Writing Task


—Bite-sized advice for better business writing—

May 21, 2019 

How to Prepare for Any Writing Task

“Good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.”

— Lester R. Bittel

Every writing situation has five basic parts: sender, message, medium, receiver, and context. Whether you’re writing an internal memo, a public-service announcement, or a simple thank-you text to a friend, these five parts influence the situation.

Analyzing each part can help you meet the demands of any writing task. Start by watching this video to learn more about the parts. Then ask and answer the questions that follow it as you prepare to write.

Watch The Writing Situation on YouTube


Use these questions to analyze any writing situation. (Make a copy of this Google Doc to save the questions.)

Analyzing the Writing Situation


  1. What is my role, and whom do I represent?
  2. How do I want to be perceived?


  1. What is the subject?
  2. What is the purpose? Why am I writing?
  3. What information do I need to include, and where can I find it?


  1. What form of writing will work best for this message?
  2. What issues of speed, distribution, or privacy apply?


  1. Who needs to receive the message?
  2. What do I want the reader to think or do?
  3. What are the reader’s needs, biases, questions?


  1. What will success look like?
  2. What are the history and current climate of the situation?
  3. What deadlines exist for sending the message and receiving responses?

Try It Out!

Consider a recent writing task you received. In a sentence or two, answer each analysis question from above about your writing situation. Afterward, apply what you learned to your writing. (Make a copy of this Google document to respond to the questions.)


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