One of the hardest things to write is a resignation letter. You want to express appropriate emotion without being overwrought or falling into the trap of over-explaining. A while back, a coaching client asked me to help her write a resignation letter she'd been putting off for awhile.

I whipped out the Content-Purpose-Audience™ Strategy right there and we walked through main idea (MI), key details (KD), questions/objections (Q), think (T) and do (D):

We sketched out an opening line (in the top right corner) for about 10 minutes. Then we spent another 10 discussing the merits of including various parts. We decided not to mention conflicts with other boards lest it beg the question, "why quit us and not one of them?". We ended up with this structure for the final piece:

  • Intro
  • Main Idea
  • Key Details
  • Do

Drafting took about 20 minutes, including some finessing. We did some revising together and finished it off. All told, we knocked the letter -- that had been plaguing her for months -- out in just under an hour.

Your take-aways

1. Take action!

Putting off something hard pretty much just makes it harder because the weight accumulates, like compounding interest only in a bad way, bogging you down with guilt and frustration beyond whatever original emotions you had. Action Step: Make a list of things you've been putting off and try to address just one. Ask a friend or coach for help if you need it!

2. Sketch it out!

Don't try to write hard letters, reports, etc., right off the bat. Action Step: Break the document down to smaller, easier-to-work-with parts. This enables you to focus on the most valuable information -- not the most emotional -- and helps avoid over-explaining. Draft quickly, saving your energy for good revising.