Winning the Business

Writing Audacious Content

Revitalize your creative passion while putting your company in the best position to win

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Confession: Sometimes, when I’m confronted with an RFP, my brain shrivels up like a raisin. My creativity becomes shrink-wrapped by the instructions, the formatting, the sheer tedium of the actual RFP questions, the urgency of the deadline. My vitality drains away.

My protective instinct screams, “Boilerplate that content, stat! Don’t think. Just get it done!” And the voices of my non-writer colleagues echo in my head: “Just spit something out; it doesn’t have to be special.”

Am I alone in this experience? No way! As proposal writers, we’re often afflicted by both the restrictions of corporate culture and the demands of the RFP process—stuck within the conventions that have been imposed upon us, burnt out by the grind of it all.

But what if we can be released from these writing afflictions? What if we can delight in creating engaging and audacious content? And what if that content leads not only to our success but also to our revitalization as writers? It’s possible!

Be informed by each one of your answers, and then have some fun. Scribble notes on paper to keep your creative juices flowing.

Audacious Writing

Let me be clear, to be an audacious writer does not mean to be inconsiderate or disrespectful of the rules. What it means is to be unrestricted by those rules—to be intentionally liberated from the predictable and the mundane.

James Baldwin noted, “Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.” It is frightening business, indeed, to take risks, especially when our writing represents our team, our department, and our entire organization. But to be released from our writing afflictions (and to create compelling and effective content), we need to rid ourselves of our crutch. In this case, it’s stale, dry writing. To be released from our writing afflictions, we must write audaciously.

Taking surprisingly bold risks is neither as difficult nor as scary as you might think. But, how do you ensure your writing is unhindered and still appropriate? Just be aware, considerate, and a wee bit whimsical.

Practice Intentional Audacity

Lost your mojo? Indubitably, you must set out to find it. Start by taking a step back from the writing itself and explore three vital components:

  1. Purposes: Why are you writing? What do you want readers to think and do after they’ve read your RFP response? And just as important, how do you want them to feel?
  2. Audience: Who are your readers? What are their values, their goals, their beliefs? What are their afflictions? Needs? Visualize actual human beings responding to your words.
  3. Context: What is the situation in which your content will be read? What variables affect how and when it will be consumed? How will your content be assessed and evaluated?

Be informed by each one of your answers, and then have some fun. Scribble notes on paper to keep your creative juices flowing.

You want an example? This very article. Before I began writing, I articulated my purposes, visualized you (yes, you!) scanning Winning the Business, considered the fact that this article is published online and that distractions subsequently abound. Then, I chose—confidently—to share a personal narrative, use first-person perspective, ask questions, use exclamation points, include fanciful words, add a splash of zing, and imagine “What if?” And it was playful! You get the idea.

Remember, your purpose as a proposal writer is not only to win. Success is also found in creating new relationships, opening doors to future opportunities, gaining respect, strengthening reputations, being memorable, learning, and even offering joy.


Lori Coffae is a rhetorician and professional writer at SHI International, a Somerset, New Jersey-based corporate reseller of software, hardware, and related services. She can be reached at lori_coffae@shi.com.

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