Monday, June 25, 2012

Writing with Style

Lately I haven’t had much time to write for pleasure since I’ve been writing a contract proposal for work. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my “real job”, I work for a Government Contracting Firm that specializes in IT, Security and GIS (follow us on twitter @Radius_Tech to find out more). First let me quickly explain the proposal process. So we receive a Statement of Work for a contract (either by networking, off of the many government websites, etc) that asks for staff to perform a certain task or tasks. We then find the people that are qualified and get their resumes ready. We then write a proposal stating that we deserve to be awarded the contract because of this, this and this. That’s a VERY simplistic take on it but you get the point.
Last week we had a Statement of Work handed to us that had a very short turnaround time. It then became my job to write the proposal. It took me a couple days to get it all together but I did it and I thought it looked great. Then my boss and the business development team started the review it. They told me I did a great job finding the people, capturing the essence of the statement of work and showing off Radius for who we are. The problem: my writing style.
 For those of you have read my writing you know that I tend to be very descriptive. I use a lot of adjectives, long flowy words and well a lot of words in general. This is apparently the opposite that I was supposed to be doing for the proposal. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve done similar technical pieces and I know how to scale back my style usually. In this case though I didn’t even realize I was doing it. For example I used a wrong sentence that had the phrase “we feel” in it. My one senior coworker flat out laughed at me for using this phrase and comment that my style was very “prosey.” It’s a real good thing that I can take criticism of my writing well.
So after about 3 or 4 edits and going through the whole proposal with my boss and the Business Development team, we got the proposal to the point where it took my writing but made it much more structured and to the point. I learned a lot about proposal/technical writing that I didn’t know before and I am confident that if I had to write another one by myself that I could get it to the end point a lot faster than this one. In the end though it was submitted and I was commended on my hard work and dedication.
What it comes down to is I will never have that true technical writing style. My style will always be full of adjectives, long drawn out sentences and breaking grammar rules to prove points in the prose.  And you know what? I like it that way and I’m not afraid to admit it.


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