Writing: Tips on the Rough Draft

Tips for Rough DraftWhen getting started on the writing, you might feel overwhelmed. Where do I begin? What should come first? How do I build this story so that it is clear, concise, easy to understand, and makes the case?

Consider this: try writing BEFORE you finished the research. Maybe even at the outset or early-to-middle stages of your research. When you’ve determined you have a tougher problem on your hands maybe? Start the writing then.

Start writing when you start the research. It can go like this:

  • Research…discover you don’t have a straightforward problem.
  • Write a research plan which starts with a clear and concise research question.
  • As you research, you add to that document your findings, conclusions, analysis, summations, and add to the plan.
  • Eventually that same document (or I like to make a copy to work from) can become your rough draft.
  • Edit, rearrange, add, delete, and discover more research to be done.
  • And as they say, “rinse and repeat” until you get a good solid third, fourth, fifth, sixth draft.

Tip: Keep a copy of each draft. If you’re like me, you’ll change your mind about something and wish you had an earlier copy to refer back to.

Whether you write before you think you’re finished or at the end of your research, you will find “holes” or things you didn’t consider when you begin writing it all out. This is good. And this is why I try to start writing before I get too far along in the research. It helps my research stay focused, and points those holes out to me sooner rather than later.

This rough draft stage can and should go through many versions. In this stage consider:

  • The rough draft should not be “pretty.” It should be quite ugly, actually. The uglier the better. Let it be as ugly as possible, then you’ll know you are doing it right!
  • DO NOT EDIT yourself, the writing, get out the Chicago Manual Of Style, or anything like that at this stage. Keep the errors, typos, misspellings, etc.
  • DO NOT worry about citation formats at this stage. If you don’t have the citation written already, do not worry about it when doing this part. Put a placeholder footnote in so you know where you need to add the citations later.

Worry about editing, errors, typos, style, citations, and all of that will only slow you down and deter you. Don’t do it! My rough drafts begin with a lot of bullet points that can easily be made into full sentences later. I tend to repeat myself, use the wrong their, there, or they’re, put in too many commas or not enough. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT! That is what the editing phase is for when you think you’re nearly done with the bones of the writing.

Get some writing done! There’s no time like the present…seriously.

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