Pros Write has been tagged for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop by the folks at EIU Writes. Thanks, Tim! His questions about my next “big thing” are answered below.
1) What is the working title of your next big writing project?
What would it take to get your organization to write in plain language? (I just made this up because I don’t have a title yet.)
2) Where did the ideas come from for this project?
I’ve been interested in the plain language movement since the beginning of my career as a linguist who studies workplace writing. After 25 years as a teacher and researcher of successful writing, I feel a sense of frustration with the impact I’ve had — not on individuals, but on organizations. So I want to learn what the obstacles are to widespread adoption of plain language principles/processes and share them with others.
3) What genre is this project?
Ultimately, I intend to publish a trade book. I also expect to present a progress report on this research at the annual Association for Business Communication convention in 2013 when I’ll be delivering a keynote address as the 2012 Outstanding Researcher. To maintain my qualifications within the Culverhouse College at the University of Alabama, I should also report some results in in a peer-reviewed journal.
4) What is a one-sentence synopsis of your project?
X and Y are what keep organizations from writing in plain language. (Ha! I don’t know what X and Y are yet. That’s what my sabbatical research next fall will help me understand.)
5) Who is publishing this work?
I have not contacted a book publisher yet. I’ve worked with Parlay Press and Lawrence Erlbaum, now owned by Taylor & Francis, on other books. But I might propose the book to a university press or a business trade publisher (like Jossey-Bass).
6) Where are you in the process of writing this work?
Very early stage. I’m planning at this point. I suspect some of my posts here at Pros Write will be used to draft some of the background content on plain language. But I have to develop the meat of the book by analyzing documents and interviewing their writers and readers within organizations. I’m in the process of developing a proposal to present to organizations in order to win an invitation to “live amongst the natives” next fall.
7) Who or what inspired you to write this work?
Hmm. How honest should I be here? At this stage of my professional (and personal) life, I feel some sense of failure. What I mean is that, while I’ve certainly helped some individual professionals write more successfully in the workplace — and so have many of my colleagues– I see little overall progress within the world of work. I want to grapple with successful workplace writing in a more organizational or systemic way. I still hope to make a bigger impact on people and organizations.
8) What else about this project might arouse readers’ interests?
I suppose if you are interested in the topics I discuss here at Pros Write, you’ll be interested in the book. But what I truly hope to do is interest people who don’t know the impact that plain language could have in their organization. That means I’m going to talk about THE bottom line. In fact, I’m working on Part Three of my series on defining plain language, and it deals with writer outcomes — like the revenues and costs related to writing quality.
9) Who am I tagging for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop?
Because I like to read what they write, I’m tagging these folks:
- Julia Williams who blogs at The PCS President’s Blog.
- Leonore Rodrigues who blogs at As a Linguist.
- Rachel Tatman who blogs at Making Noise and Hearing Things.
- Gabe Doyle who blogs at Motivated Grammar.
I hope all of them will tell us about their next big thing by Tuesday, February 19!