Regardless of the type of writing you do, having a well-structured writing checklist is always the perfect way to start. It may take some time to develop the perfect one but it is always worth it in the end because it helps your writing stay more organized and therefore easy to do. Furthermore, a good checklist keeps you on the right track and if you need to, you can always update and alter it along the way to keep it useful.
Why Is a Checklist So Important?
A good checklist works wonders whether you’re writing a college essay, a business report, or the next great novel. Checklists offer a variety of advantages, including:
- They make it easier to revise your final draft.
- They offer step-by-step details to help you learn what to write next.
- They keep you on the right track as you move along.
When you are writing a document, you are likely looking at three main aspects: the grammar, or how you’re saying what you’re saying; the content, which consists of what you’re trying to say; and the organization of the document, or how it’s being laid out and written. With each of these steps, a good checklist is invaluable because it helps keep you on track from start to finish, allowing the components of your writing to flow more smoothly.
There are also many other benefits of having a checklist while you’re writing. For instance, checklists:
- Help you be more productive because they make the writing process a lot easier
- Help make sure that the final project is perfect and meets the goals you set for it before you started writing
- Help you stay organized and not forget or overlook anything important
- Help keep you motivated because they show you your progress to that point
- Increase your creativity by giving you ideas you wouldn’t have if you had no checklist
Checklists sometimes take a little time to develop but they force you to think up ideas for the beginning, middle, and end of your project. They help you determine what you want to write about in each section of the document, not just the beginning and the end, and they enable you to come up with ideas that you can put into action as soon as you start writing.
Finally, checklists save you a lot of time because at every part of the list, you’ll know what you’re going to write about and all you have to do is concentrate on that for the moment. You can also look ahead if you want to and make sure that you don’t write about something you’ve already mentioned in the document so checklists are good all-around tools that save you time each step of the way.
Checklists Are Easier to Devise Than You Think
A good writing checklist saves you a lot of time and energy. If you look online, you can find a lot of templates to use for your next checklist. Of course, if you’re interested in developing your own checklist, that is a lot easier to do than you think. You can even start with a template and revise it to fit your needs. If you decide to write your own checklist from scratch, here are some tips and suggestions for making it a good one:
- First, choose your topic or the main point that you want to get across to your readers.
- Make sure that you understand the topic. Of course, if it’s a topic that you’re trying to learn more about, your research will help you do this.
- The beginning, middle section, and ending or conclusion have to be clearly indicated so make sure that you have points you wish to make under each of these sections.
- The beginning section should include an introduction to the topic and the position you’re going to take, if applicable.
- The end section should summarize everything and, preferably, have a statement of conclusion that will stick in the readers’ minds.
- There can be as many middle sections as needed and each of them should include information on a certain point that you’re trying to make.
There really are no hard-and-fast rules to devising a writing checklist because each one is unique in and of itself. In fact, as you’re writing it, you’ll come up with ideas that you need to include in the checklist, because each section of the document — be it a college essay or a business paper — is important and has the potential to contain a lot of very important details.
You should also keep in mind that rough drafts of your checklist are helpful when you’re getting started. Much as with the document itself, you can revise and edit your checklist so that you don’t forget anything important. To do this, you can follow these simple steps:
- Take your time and write up the first draft of the checklist.
- Proofread and revise as necessary.
- Put the checklist aside for a few hours and come back to it later with a fresh set of eyes.
- For the final version, you can use a dictionary and thesaurus for help to make it perfect.
A good checklist all but guarantees a good document in the end and it makes writing that document easier and faster than you think. Once again, there is a lot of online assistance in this area because online resources can give you both templates to start with and tools that allow you to develop your own checklist, making it personalized and therefore much more valuable.
When you’re developing your checklist, it may help to ask the following questions:
- What relationship do I have with these readers?
- What effect do I want the document to have on the readers?
- Have I used functional language so that the document is effective?
- What structure should I use to get my message across?
- How can I present a balanced view of the topic matter?
- Do my sentence structures have variety?
When you’re writing your sentences, varying them in structure and length shows some sophistication and control on your part. Anticipating how your readers will respond to each section of the document can go a long way in ending up with well-structured, meaningful sentences and paragraphs. Even if you are stating your objection to something, it is good to keep it in a polite and professional tone; otherwise, your readers will just think that you’re petty and they’ll lose interest.
Can’t Get Started? Try These Helpful Tips!
Your writing checklist doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to be detailed enough to get your writing project started so if you’re having trouble getting started with this list, do not worry. There are plenty of resources available that can help you get started so that in the end, you’ll have a great checklist that enables you to remember everything you want to include in your writing and even help you become more creative with your project.
If you are familiar with the basics of developing a checklist for your writing project but you need some specifics to complete it, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your approach to the subject matter should be logical and original.
- Your main ideas should have a lot of depth and be very thorough.
- Any evidence you use should be interpreted correctly and be relevant.
- Your introduction should be focused and have a purpose.
- You should always have a fluid transition between ideas.
- Your grammar should be perfect.
- You can reveal your unique sensibility in the voice that you use.
- Write clear and concise sentences always.
- Always document and cite the sources that you use.
If you’re writing for a professional organization or educational institution, your writing will be a little more formal and structured than if you’re writing books, short stories, and magazine articles. You’ll likely have to incorporate a whole new set of “do”s and “don’t”s into your writing with rules that include the following:
- Don’t start your sentences with words such as “well,” “yes,” and “no.”
- Don’t use colloquial terms or terms that only certain groups of people will understand.
- Forget about using exclamation points as they’re too informal.
- For emphasis, you can use quotation marks to get the point across.
- Don’t include rhetorical questions.
As you can see, checklists are used for numerous purposes, including the actual writing and to make sure that you don’t forget anything when you’re editing the document after it’s written. Coming up with ideas for a story isn’t usually that difficult but listing those ideas and organizing them helps give the story some more structure, helping to ensure that you include everything you wanted to include regardless of what type of document it is.
The Best Checklists Are Often the Simplest Ones
Just because you need a checklist doesn’t mean that it has to be complicated. Indeed, in most cases, the best checklists are the ones that keep the process simple. This means that your checklist may not look just the same as the checklist of a colleague or fellow student so don’t be concerned if your checklist has items on it that aren’t found in other lists.
Here are some other suggestions for creating an efficient writing checklist for things such as novels and short stories:
- Make sure that the introduction immediately connects to the reader and introduces the story well.
- Make sure that the entire document flows well and is coherent.
- Don’t include any irrelevant material in your document.
- Make sure that the conclusion is deliberate and organized.
- Use details and examples when using specific evidence.
- Make sure that your paragraphs are in logical order.
- The wording and diction in each paragraph must sound right once you finish writing.
- Use the right punctuation, grammar, spelling, and usage when writing your sentences.
With all types of checklists, you should include how to lead the readers from one topic to another, make sure that the story or document is organized and well structured, write descriptive sentences that actually say something, and have a clear-cut beginning, middle, and end. These things are important regardless of the type of document you are writing because they are basic, standard, effective suggestions.
Before you start devising a checklist, here are some additional questions to ask yourself:
- How do I want the story to progress? What is happening in each scene or chapter?
- What can I do to make my points easy to read and understand?
- Have I used punctuation to convey meaning or build tension in the story?
- How will I convey the characters’ feelings and emotions in my story?
- Have I done enough to develop the details, dialogue, action, and theme?
- Have I used enough transitional phrases to make my transitions easy to understand?
Remember, you don’t have to develop a complex checklist that is 20 pages long just for it to be effective. Decide how you want the story to go and what you need to do afterwards to make sure that the writing is as good as it can be and if you do need help to make sure that you don’t overlook or forget anything, you can check the Internet for more suggestions and practical hands-on tips, not to mention templates to help you get started.
Keeping it Simple and Easy to Implement
Some writers spend so much time devising their checklists that they take too much time away from their actual writing, which is yet another reason to keep the checklist development simple. If you’re a detail-oriented person, this is likely to happen to you but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can learn to make things simpler for yourself with a little practice and it won’t take too long to accomplish this feat.
Above all else, checklists put everything in front of you that you need to remember while you’re writing so their importance cannot be overstated. Consistently referring to that writing checklist is smart; of course, you can revise it at any time if you come up with additional ideas that you’d like to include in your writing. This is yet another reason to make your checklist simple and to the point because it is almost certain to be edited all along the way.
Checklists are not only great for keeping you more organized and productive but they are also good at keeping the items you’d like to include in your writing prioritized, ensuring that you won’t forget the most important parts of the story or document. While it is true that they are merely general guidelines to use that can be revised and edited at any point, this doesn’t mean that they do not serve a very important function. Learning how to write and utilize checklists is therefore important for all writers regardless of their genre.