29 Draft
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29 Draft A sense of organization, of where you’re headed, may be the single most important thing to have before you start actually writing a draft. But the more you do before the draft, the less painful the draft will be. A major goal of this book is to make drafting—the most difficult part of the writing process for most people—easier, less scary, less overwhelming. I try to take the pressure off the draft by making moves before and after drafting, but eventually you have to sit down and write in full sentences, and it’s work. The first part of this chapter offers eight different ways of writing out those full sentences. The second lists tips for the sweaty work of getting developed ideas down on the page. Drafting Approaches Approaches three and six start with something written on paper. The others begin with just a blank page or screen but differ in the writer’s attitude, the stories in the writer’s head about just what this draft is for. 1. “I just want to get some ideas down and see if they’re worth anything.” Draft to explore (move 170). Sometimes the smartest thing is to promise Draft    245 yourself that you’re not even trying to write a draft; you just want to explore the subject with words. Call it a “discovery draft” or a “sketch” if you want. If you’re lucky, your exploration will result in a revisable draft. If that doesn’t work out, at least your stress should be under control. 2. “I want to get my ideas down as fast as possible without worrying about purpose, audience, all that stuff.” Draft by freewriting (move 171). Just sit down at the computer with a headful of ideas and go . . . and hope you don’t get stuck, when you may wish you had SOMETHING written down beforehand. 3. “I’ve got a good outline; I just need to flesh it out.” Draft by outline (move 172). The opposite of approach #1. Move meticulously from branch to branch of the outline, each numbered or named entity on the outline getting its own paragraph. 4. “I tend to get distracted and go off on tangents when I write.” Draft with blinders (move 173). Develop your own code—like “LLL” for “later”—for dealing later with the subjects and perspectives you ignore the first time through, as you work to put down the most direct word path possible toward your goal. 5. “It’s all too hard.” Pick the draft of least resistance (move 174). Working from some kind of outline, pick the first discrete unit of work that strikes you as “easy” or “fun” to accomplish. Do it. Then look around for another easy thing. 6. “I’ve got a thesis. What next?” Draft with thesis (move 175). Many readers expect a thesis-based structure, so thesis-driven drafting makes a lot of sense. You can regularly look back at your thesis as you draft, making sure you’re not getting too far off target. See Develop a thesis ➥97. 7. “I like to perfect as I draft.” Draft recursively (move 176). You can use recursive drafting with any of the preceding approaches. Recursive means circling back around to—taking two steps forward and one step back. Try to figure out how large your recursive circles are. Do you want a complete draft before you come back to the beginning, or should you work on a couple of pages of yesterday’s writing before you start fresh today? 8. “I usually don’t figure out what I want to say until I’m polishing.” Three times round (move 177). Write a complete draft, as fast as you can. Put the draft away. Write another complete draft, as fast as you can. Again, put it away. Write a third first draft without looking at the other two. It will be far superior. Cut and paste pieces from the first two drafts into the third one if it seems appropriate Drafting Tips 1. Everyone should do this. If you’ve got a “magic pen,” whip it out! Use your favorite tools and habits (move 178). Writers are famous for having strange habits—writing standing up or in the bathtub, or with 246    MOves a particular kind of pen and pad. Sure, writing on a computer will save the step of typing it up later, but do you actually work better writing longhand? Keep track...


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Subject Headings

  • English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching.
  • Literary form -- Study and teaching.
  • Language arts.
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