‘Writing is easy,’ Gene Fowler, Oscar-winning writer and director, once said. ‘All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.’ If you’ve ever stared at a blank page on a computer screen, you may know the feeling and the procrastinating that comes with it. This chapter is about how to go from a blank screen to writing a report or other communication. Both this chapter and chapter 6 focus specifically on writing reports to explain the writing process, but the same techniques can be applied to whatever communication you are writing.


You may think you are ready to put pen to paper or fingers to keys, but the best way to begin writing is to think and prepare. In his book, William Zinsser observes, ‘All writing is ultimately a question of solving a problem. It may be a problem of where to obtain facts or how to organise the material. It may be a problem of approach or attitude, tone or style. Whatever it is, it has to be confronted and solved.’1

Solving a problem? That’s what management accountants do: solve problems. Every day, someone in an organisation—a supervisor, a colleague, the head of a company—asks them to help solve problems. You can apply the same problem-solving strategies you use as a management accountant to solving the problem of writing. Start with a list of questions to consider with every writing project, large or small. This is not to suggest that writing is formulaic, but a ...

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