As a writer, I often get the urge to sit at my keyboard and get to the good stuff—the writing. Most of the time, I’d like to just dive in and forget about all that tedious planning that always seems to take so much precious time when I could actually just do the writing.
But I come up short. I spend too much time with my fingers hovering over the keys instead of pressing them down to create sentences that string together into something cohesive. I panic watching the clock when I’m up against a deadline, knowing that these words have to make it onto the page. In that rush, my heart races, my hands sweat, my team wonders what’s taking so long.
In that moment I say to myself, I should have planned this better.
As a proposal writer, you may feel like the first step is to start writing immediately after the proposal section is assigned. Careful planning may seem like a waste of time, but when planning tools are used, you simplify the writing process and save time. Planning is vital to ensuring you create a clear, concise, and correct document while also improving the flow and direction, making it easier for an evaluator to score.
–Shipley Proposal Writer Playbook
Proposal planning and proposal writing are not mortal enemies. They can and should be the best of friends.
We’ve all heard the adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” While I often tire of hearing this phrase—even when I say it to myself—the words feel surprisingly accurate when it comes to creating a well-written, customer-focused proposal. Proposals have strict guidelines and deadlines. If they are not met, you will not win.
Don’t know where to start? That’s okay. Start anywhere and go everywhere. Maybe even start with what you know and work outward from there. Involve yourself in an early review of the proposal once a proposal strategy is in place. In smaller organizations you, as the writer, may take a lead role in this early review.
There are many tools that can help with the planning process that don’t seem tedious or strained. In fact, when I use these tools my proposal practically writes itself! Like magic, my sentences have focus and move toward an overall goal that is clear, concise, and correct.
Use tools and templates. This idea cannot be overstated. Tools and templates help you gather all the right information, in the right place, at the right time. Use the tools and templates your company uses so you and your team can all be on the same page during the entire proposal process. Don’t have any tools? Create some or buy some to experience what tools and templates can do for you. They allow you to enjoy the planning and organization journey so much more.
Create an outline. Do yourself and your team this favor. This task is sometimes daunting when proposals are complex and difficult to understand. It may help to remind yourself that the more difficult a proposal is, the more need there is to plan and outline to make sure all the requirements are met.
Developing a compliant outline is often difficult since many bid requests are confusing on the first reading. The difficulty increases with complex and poorly written bid requests, management pressures to start writing immediately, and individual temptation to just default to a prior proposal for your outline.
–Shipley Proposal Writer Playbook
Does planning seem like a waste of time? Think again. Planning saves you time, stress, money, rework and helps you and your team deliver a winning proposal. Before you type a single word.