First Drafts: write first, edit later

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First Drafts: write first, edit later

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Are you in charge of your social media accounts? How about your blog or print advertising? This post is going to be a little different in that we won’t be discussing specific marketing strategies. Instead we’re going to talk about the nuts and bolts of producing content. Writing can be tough. Every word you type seems to have an air of permanence. What if you type something wrong, or you come back later and think it was a dumb thing to say? They’re all going to laugh at you!

OK, we’re kidding of course, and it may be an exaggeration, but for many highly intelligent people writing anything for public consumption is a seriously tough hurdle to clear. As they sit and stare at the blank computer screen, figuring out how to start, they’ll type a few letters, then delete. Then maybe a whole sentence or two, then delete. We just want it to come out perfectly the first time. What if you walk away from your computer and someone comes by and sees how bad that opening paragraph is? Self doubt can be crippling.

Well let us tell you it’s perfectly normal to feel this way. Even seasoned novelists balk at the thought of their private musings and sketches getting into the public eye. But much like we wouldn’t expect absolute perfection from a musician sight reading a difficult piece for the first time, we shouldn’t think that we can just sit down and write the perfect paragraph with no revisions, editing, or even outside help.

This is where first drafts come in. In fact, we’ll direct you to this article for a detailed look at how to effectively use first drafts. Excuse the title, it’s worth the read. Many classes of college freshmen have done well following her advice. Here, we’ll just cover the basics. A first draft can be totally free flowing stream of consciousness thoughts transposed to paper or keyboard. Don’t worry about organizing into paragraphs, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation..nothing. Leave it behind and start putting words down. It may be hard to break that, “what if someone see’s this” mentality at first but once you do, you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually write. Just relax and write what comes to mind, even if it doesn’t relate directly to what you’re trying to..oh hey look, a squirrel!

Once you have a first draft, then it’s time to start sculpting what you’ve written. It’s likely that you’ll end up with under half of what you started with, and that’s OK too. That’s why you wrote so much to begin with. It’s much easier to have a lot of content and then trim, sculpt, and edit as needed. When doing this, I’ve often found that other aspects that hadn’t been part of the original plan become included and maybe even integral to the piece.

This is a skill that all good writers have used at one point. After a while it becomes second nature and eventually you’ll find yourself having to edit less and less. It is a daunting task to try and complete a perfect article from the get go. It’s much easier if you work towards it. If you don’t have the time to develop this set of skills don’t worry, that’s why we’re here! We know how to produce good content and get the point across, showing the public that YOU’RE the expert in your field.

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