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  • Writer's pictureClare Tarling

It is all in the planning

Sometimes I am faced with a very substantial "Easy Read"project; perhaps a 50-page strategy for a Local Authority in very small print. It can feel completely overwhelming. Here are some tips for tackling those really big projects.

1. Read it all through

Don't attach too much meaning to the words. Don't even read all the words. You don't need to concentrate too hard at this stage. Just go from start to finish.

2. Drink a cup of tea

Do something else, rest your brain. If you have time, wait a day. I find this really helps.

3. A proper read-through

Find a highlighter pen or three. Reserve as much time as you can, prevent interruptions and have a very focused read through all the material. Highlight the points that you think are the top priorities for you readers. Cross out sections which are not needed, or are repetitive.

4. Mind map

I LOVE a mind map! Identify the main points and map them out. Note; you have not started on your finished document at all just yet.

5. Paper mock-up

Use your mind map to sketch out your pages. Draw squares where the pictures will go, sketch out the headings. Remember that if you are printing a booklet, the number of pages needs to be divisible by 4.

6. Sit down at the keys

Open your preferred programme and start to write. By now you will have a good idea of the objective of the document, the overall shape, section headings and the main points you need to make. Draft the whole document, and add illustrations if you are using them.

7. Find some proof-readers

Preferably people who have similar interests and abilities to your eventual reader. Listen hard to what they say, and take their advice.

8. Have another break!

If you can, step away for a few days, focus on something else; this will help you to ponder the feedback you got and to work out how to integrate it into your document.

9. The last push

A bit like step 3, this is another very focused stage, which requires concentration. Make sure the document is completely perfect. Go over and over it. Mistakes, grammatical errors and inconsistencies are not ok.

10. You are done

Think back over the project and reflect. This will help you next time. What went well? What did you find easy? What took you longer than you thought? What feedback did you get? Note down all of your thoughts and dig them out again next time, to help you to find a smoother, faster way through your next project. Good luck!

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