Working Writers Assignment

Peer review of proposal memo: 29 January
Revised proposal memo due: 2 February
Final report memo due: 12 February

For this assignment, you will investigate the writing habits of a workplace professional.

  1. Identify a professional in the workplace—perhaps someone who works in a position you’d like to fill. Preferably, this professional will be someone who writes in technical or scientific communication, but they could also be an attorney, an engineer, a secretary, an advertising or marketing writer, an accountant, a business owner—anyone who writes daily in their profesional lives to get things done.
  2. Develop a set of focused questions to ask this person to help you to understand the role of writing in professional contexts. A list of sample questions appears below to get you thinking, but you will want to tailor your questions to the professional you have identified. (Aditional information on interviews is available here.)
  3. Write a short proposal memo to me letting me providing some background information on the person you selected and relating the questions that you have developed.
  4. Perform an interview of your professional (this can be in person, over the phone, or by email).
  5. Transcribe your interview.
  6. Synthesize your findings and report them in a memo that uses a professional writing style and a design that that takes into account the needs of your audience.

Sample questions

  1. What is your position and how long have you held it?
  2. How much time do you spend writing?
  3. What kinds of writing do you do?
  4. How much time do you spend writing?
  5. What kinds of writing do you do?
  6. Do you consciosly plan the "look" of your written documents, such as formats, fonts, and white space?
  7. How important is your writing and/or designing to the successful performance of your job?
  8. Who are the audiences for your writing?
  9. Do you write alone or collaboratively? Is one approach more productive than another for you?
  10. What’s the major problem you encounter with workplace writing?
  11. What are the features that you look for in someone else’s writing?
  12. What advice would you give to someone preparing to write in the workplace?
  13. What differences, if any, do you see between professional writing and the writing you did in high school or college?

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