GROUP WRITING

GROUP WRITING

Many college graduate es discover that once they are in business and industry, they must cowrie their documents. Often a committee or a project team – with three or more people – must produce a final report on their activities. Uunless steam members coordinate their activities, the give and take of group vision can cause hurt feelings, frustration, and an inferior report. The best-way to generate an effective document is to follow a clear writing process. For each of the writing stages, you not only must plan for producing the document, but also must facilitate the group’s activities.

Prewriting in a Group: Organizing
In the prewriting stage, in addition to planning about the topic, you must develop your group into a unit with a leader and a plan.Select a Leader The leader is not necessarily the best writer or the person most informed about the topic. Probably the best leader is the best “people” person, the one who can smooth over the inevitable personality clashes, or the best manager, the one who can best conceptualize the stages of the project.

Plan the Group’s Activities You must also think through the group’s activities and develop an overall plan to resolve differences and to manage   group’s activities  Resolving differences is an inevitable part of group activity. Your. group should develop a reasonable method of resolving differences that’s clear to all. The usual methods’ are by voting, reaching a. consensus, or accepting expert opinion. Voting is fast but potentially.divisive. People who lose votes often lose interest in the project. Reaching a consensus is slow but affirmative. If you can thrash through your differences without alienating one another, you will maintain interest and energy in the project. Accepting expert opinion is usually, but not always, an easy way to resolve differences. If one member, who has studied citation methods closely, says that the group should use a certain format, that decision is easy to accept. Unfortunately another group member will sometimes disagree. In that case, your group will need to use one of the other methods to establish harmony.

To manage the group’s activities, the group must make a work plan. The group must clarify each person’s assignments and deadlines in the plan. Members should use a calendar to determine the final due date and discuss reasonable time frames for each stage in the process. The group should put everything in writing and should schedule regular meetings. At the meetings members will make many decisions – for instance, about the style sheet for head and citation format. Write up these decisions and distribute them to all members. Make – and insist on  progress reports. Help one another with problems. Tell other group members how and when they can find you. Attention to forming the group and treating the group’s activities as a project will definitely increase your chances of completing the project successfully  while still enjoying one another’s company.

Writing in if Group
Before actual drafting starts, the group should have a prewriting meeting. At this meeting the group has two key tasks: to clarify assignments and deadlines and to select a method of drafting.

Clarify Assignments and Deadlines To clarify assignments and deadlines, answer the following questions:

*  What is the sequence of sections?
• Must any sections be completed before others can be started?
• What is each person’s writing assignment?
• What is the deadline for each section?

Pay particular attention to deadlines. Work backward from the final deadline. If the report is due May I, and if you need one week to type and two weeks to review and revise, then the deadline for drafting is April 9, three weeks prior to May 1. Select a Method of Drafting Groups can draft a document in two ways: each person writes a section, or one person writes the entire draft. Generally each person writes a section if the document is long or if the sections are highly specialized. In a proposal, for instance, one person might write the technical description while someone else tackles’ the budget. If each person writes a section, the work is distributed equally. However, this method may not be efficient because of possible conflicts of style, format, or tone. To make the document more consistent, one person often writes it, especially if it 1s short. A problem with this method is that the writer gets
his or her ego involved, easily feeling “used” or “put upon,” especially if another member suggests major revisions. The group must decide which method to use, considering the strengths and weaknesses of the group members.

Postwriting in  Group
Finishing involves two activities: editing and producing the final document.

Select an Editing Method Groups can edit in several ways. They can edit as a group, or they can designate an editor. If they edit as a group, they can passes sections around for comment, or they can meet to discuss the sections. Frankly, this method is cumbersome. Groups will often “over discuss’; smaller editorial points (such as whether or not to use all capital letters for headings) and lose sight of larger issues. If the group designates one editor, that person can usually produce a consistent document. The editor should bring the edited document back to the group for The basic questions that the group must. decide about editing include.

• Who will suggest changes in drafts? one person? an editor? the group?
• Will members meet as a group to edit?
• Who will decide whether or not to accept changes?

In this phase the conflict-resolving mechanism is critical. Accepting suggested changes, for instance, is difficult for some people, especially if they are insecure about their writing.

Select a Final Production Method I The group must designate one member to oversee the final draft. Someone must collect the drafts, engage the typist, and read for typos . .In addition, someone must write the introduction and attend to such matters as preparing the table of contents, the bibliography, and the visual aids. These tasks take time and require close attention to detail, especially if the document is long. Questions for the group to consider at this stage include.

• Who will writes the introduction?
• Who will put together the table of contents?
• Who will edit all the citations and bibliography?
• Who will prepare the final version of the visual aids?
• Who will oversee producing the final document?

Conclusion 
The group writing process will challenge your skills as a writer and person. It cal) be a pleasant or an awful experience. Good “planning will enhance your chances for a successful report and a pleasant experience. As you work with the group, remember that people’s feelings are easily hurt when their writing is criticized. Be gentle. Or as one student said, “Get some tact.” The checklist below summarizes the special concerns of group writing .

CHECKLIST FOR GROUP WRITING

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SUMMARY
This chapter explains the technical- writing process and the special concerns of the group writing process. In the technical writing process, writers plan, draft, and finish their documents. Planning includes finding the answers to these eight questions:

• Who is my audience?
• What is my goal in this writing situation?
• What constraints affect this situation?
• What are the basic facts?
• What is the expected form? .
• What is an effective outline?

• What format and visual aids should I use?
• What tone should I use?

Drafting consists of writing and rewriting a document in order to make it easier for the reader to grasp. Writers follow a preliminary outline but must employ effective strategies in selecting the words and developing sentences and paragraphs. They must also use such devices as brainstorming and treeing to help themselves if they get stuck. Finishing is putting the document into its final form. Vriters make the text accurate by checking the spelling, grammar, and overall consistency of similar elements in the document. The group writing process requires special activities at each stage of the regular writing process. At the outset, groups must select a leader and devise a plan for completing the document. They also must select methods of resolving differences and clarify assignments and deadlines. As work progresses, members should meet regularly to report on activities, to make style sheet decisions, and to share information. Finally they must select a method for drafting, editing, and finishing the document, paying close attention to assignments, deadlines, and conflict resolution .

EXERCISES
1. Analyze a professional document in your field (an article, a business letter, a chapter in a textbook)to see how the writer answered the planning questions. Then assume that you are an editor at a company that publish such documents. Use your analysis to.write a letter to a prospective author explaining how to prepare such a document for your company.

2. Revise the following paragraph. The new paragraph should contain sections on reasons for writing and format. Revise sentences also.

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS

1. Interview three people who write as part of their academic or professional work to discover what writing process they use.

• A student in your major
• A faculty member in your major department
.• A working professional in your field

Prepare questions about each phase of their writing process. Show them the model of the process  and ask whether it reflects the process  through. Then prepare a one- to two page memo to your classmates,
summarizing the results of your interviews.
2. Write a description of a machine or form that might be used in your field or that you often use. Before you write the description, perform all the following activities:

Answer all the planning questions about your document in a memo to your instructor Write out a time schedule for each stage of your process Hand in your checklist, schedule, and answers with your paper.