To establish a game plan for initiating quality control into our writing careers, we need first to see what causes quality to slip and then see how that slipping can be stopped. Experts generally cite five reasons for a lack of quality control in service occupations such as ours. They include a lack of attention, a lack of desire, a poor attitude, refusal to accept instruction, and a lack of awareness of the need to be more alert and careful.
1. A lack of attention occurs when writers begin to take things for granted. They don’t check to make sure that all the pages of a book proposal are in place because they always have been before. They don’t double-check the typing on important contracts because it has always been accurate before. Then the day comes when writers take too much for granted and it costs a manuscript sale or worse. In all matters, freelancers must be ever vigilant for error prevention.
2. A lack of desire can be brought on by physical illness, temporary mental stress, a dull routine, or a lack of personal incentives. When this occurs it is better to call a “time out” (a vacation, some prayer time, a few days off, a walk in the country) rather than to force oneself to press on. Poor quality will be the next result of writing at that point.
3. A poor attitude is a personal matter. However, each writer should remember that a good attitude toward defect prevention is all that stands between mediocrity and a great performance. Quality control is not motivation, but motivation is needed to initiate and maintain quality control.
4. Refusing to accept instruction always leads to weakened quality control. Writers must gain time in the advancement of their careers by learning from the wisdom of others. They must be eager to attend writing conferences, eager to read new books and new articles which contain ideas for improving our writing, and eager to listen to the advice and counsel of more experienced writers and editors. The quality of one’s research, writing style, and manuscript selling can always be improved if a writer can just find the right person to show him or her a new way or different approach. A writer must not only be willing to accept such instruction when it comes his or her way, but also be out diligently seeking it.
5. A lack of awareness of the need to be more careful and alert actually may have been something a writer is unknowingly guilty of. With the reading of this blog, however, the scales have fallen from your eyes. Now that you are aware, it’s up to you to implement this awareness into a program that makes you careful and maintains your alertness.
Adapted from Writing for Profit by Dennis E. Hensley (Thomas Nelson, 1985; revised 2003). At Taylor University in Upland, IN, Dr. Hensley teaches students in the Professional Writing Major how to maintain quality control in their writing. © 2012 by Dennis E. Hensley. All rights reserved.