Getting Your Ideas Organized
One of the questions I am asked most frequently in proposal writing seminars is, [How can I write my proposals faster?] The answer to that question depends on what happens when you try to write. There may be structural or management problems in your company that impede the flow of information so that you lack the necessary facts. Or you may encounter difficulties in delegating work and then getting it back on time. Usually, though, what we are talking about is more basic. Most often, people take a long time to write because they have a hard time figuring out what they want to say and how they want to say it.
It would be interesting to know how many hours people spend in front of their computers, watching the cursor blink, trying to come up with a good opening sentence. How many drafts they create, only to discard them because they just don't sound right.
The chief engineer at one of the world's largest engineering companies told me that he hated to write proposals. [When I look at an engineering problem,] he said, [I can immediately see the answer. But the answer is a totality. It's one complete thing. The problem is, I can't communicate it that way. Instead, I have to take this solid, complete answer and stuff it through a funnel so that it comes out one bit at a time. And to make it worse, the bits have to drip out in just the right order or none of it counts!] In expressing his frustration, he had concocted a perfect visual image for the process he was going through. Or, more accurately, that his brain was going through.
Nearly a quarter century ago, research into a particularly serious form of epilepsy revealed a startling fact. The two halves (or hemispheres) of the brain function quite differently from each other. The left hemisphere in most people controls most forms of sequential thinking, including language. The right hemisphere controls visualization and holistic or global thinking. (This hemispheric differentiation is sometimes reversed in lefthanded people.) Equally interesting is the fact that people tend to be dominant to one hemisphere or the other. Just as you prefer to pick up a pen and sign your name with one hand over the other, you prefer to process information and [think] using the cognitive patterns of one hemisphere over the other.
What does this have to do with writing proposals? Just this: If you are a right-brain thinker, you may be able to conceptualize quickly and creatively but then have an excruciatingly difficult time communicating your thoughts because putting those thoughts into language requires sequential processing. You have to put one word in front of another, one sentence