Many budding writers work in the false belief that their first draft must be perfect, or very close to perfect. They believe that written masterpieces spout forth on demand from the keyboard of a great writer.
Rubbish! The fact is that the first draft is, and should be exactly what it is called – a ‘First Draft’. Good written content is developed over a series of drafts starting (obviously) with the first draft which may be nothing more than a series of jumbled thoughts noted down as they came to mind. Then comes a series of revisions, updates, tweaks etc. before the final, finished article is produced.
Sadly, many people do not even start, let alone finish the first draft because they believe that it has to be much more than is necessary. They simply are frightened of getting into it or they believe themselves faced with a mammoth task of producing something far more polished than is necessary.
So don’t be put off by your first draft, just write down what ever come to you with the aim of getting at least the bones of all of your intended content down ‘on paper’. Then in subsequent drafts, you can flesh it out (avoiding waffle, or fluff) and tidy it up etc.
It is unlikely that you can produce the final article in less than three drafts and often more are required – anything from five to ten is not uncommon. But don’t worry about this – after all, this process allows you to tackle the exercise a little at a time.
Once you have your draft in something like its final format and with its content broadly as you want it – leave it alone! Put it to one side and do other things for a day or two, longer if you have the time. Then come back and look at it again. Almost certainly you will see many areas for revision that you had not noticed before.
Here are one or two golden rules to follow:
- Put up the ‘Do not disturb’ (under any circumstances!) sign. You need uninterrupted focus and concentration.
- Try to work yourself into a mental condition where you really want to write the article.
- Allow your imagination to run wild. Note down whatever comes to mind, for subsequent analysis and assessment.
- Do not be afraid to explore and if necessary ‘borrow’ content from other writers. But do not use any such content ‘as is’. You must take the time to rewrite such content in your own words, perhaps adding to, or removing content in some places. Use other writers’ content as the kernel from which to develop your own work.
- Do not wander off! Bums on seats until the job is done!