Proposal writing can be challenging for many people. Some subject matter experts (SME) went into engineering and project management for a reason, and they have a holy fear of writing similar to the way others dread math. They never counted on having to write proposals. Others may have never been taught how to write well. Here are five reasons proposal writers struggle with writing sections:
- Using an incorrect writing process. Writing without the proper process can be daunting because we think at an average speed of 500-600 words per minute, speak at about 150 words per minute, and type anywhere from 30-80 words per minute. It is a fertile ground for confusion where people get lost in their own thoughts, can’t sort through them or capture them efficiently, and end up taking an hour to produce a single paragraph. Additionally, our brain engages different centers for different parts of the writing process, and when we don’t go along with the brain’s natural propensities, we slow ourselves down. Writing has a certain sequence of steps that have to happen in order – otherwise a writer is bound to wrestle with a writer’s block. One has to learn the correct process and practice it, in order to writer better and faster.
- Having unhelpful beliefs about one’s writing abilities. People with a strong critical thinking faculty tend to be hard on themselves. They tend to self-flagellate while attempting to write sections, and harshly criticize their own work. They tend to believe they “don’t have a creative bone in their body,” think proposal writers need talent to be good, or otherwise postpone the painful process of writing until the deadline looms close.
- Neglecting to use writing tools. We are well into the second decade of the 21st century, and yet many still think that all they need for writing is a laptop, their brain, and fast fingers. Yet, all kinds of tools and methodologies exist to help in brainstorming, writing, and editing that go far beyond you and the keyboard. Mastering these tools speeds up and simplifies a modern proposal writer’s workload.
- Not understanding what it takes to write a compliant proposal section. Although many are familiar with requests for proposal (RFP), few have been taught how to dissect the requirements and understand how to prepare a truly responsive solution. “Answering the mail” is a typical SME challenge, so proposal writers need training in recognizing the big picture – what is really being asked – as well as the key phrases and words that dictate what the section has to discuss.
- Not knowing how to write persuasively. Proposals require not only solid approaches and plans, but additional ways of convincing the evaluators to trust you. Their task is to engage evaluators, create a mental picture in their minds, and get them to believe in your solution. You want them to feel compelled to select you.
Getting over these five hurdles will get your non-professional proposals writers a long way towards painless proposal writing and higher section quality.