Whether you want to start on a thesis, book, or article, writing the first draft can be an intimidating process. In many cases, being constantly overwhelmed with ideas leads people to procrastinate.
One of the ways to avoid that is to create a draft. If this will be your first time creating a draft, you have come to the right place. This article will help you understand how to write the first draft properly. I will also throw in several writing tips to further ease your work.
Why You Should Write Drafts
Writing rough drafts is a crucial part of the writing process. Its primary role is solely to get you started on your piece. It helps you organize your thoughts, as you will know the outline of what you want to put into words.
By planning the beginning and the end of your content, you also get to avoid having writer’s block — saving you lots of time and energy.
How to Write a First Draft
Before getting started, note that your rough draft is created to build a structure. Having one helps you organize the flow of your writing and put ideas together cohesively. That said, laying out your thoughts in sections will improve your writing flow and editing process.
Since a first draft is only there as a base for improvement, draft papers will be messy. They exist to be revised, so do not stop to edit yourself or research more as you write.
Your draft will also help you know what to expand on and what to omit from the writing. I recommend doing a mind-mapping exercise to help you understand what to learn beforehand.
Now that I have explained some critical pointers on how to write the first draft, I will elaborate on the steps of composing your first draft.
Start with a Plan
Take out a paper and a pen, and begin with creating a mind map. Find a focus keyword about the subject that you want to write and research for other relevant keywords you want to discuss within that scope.
Through this mind-mapping process, you will be able to structure abstract thoughts into a cohesive, written draft so as not to overwhelm you.
Create a list of questions that are relevant to the topic of your writing below each section. These questions will help you understand your readers’ point of view, allowing you to write an informative piece worth reading. As such, make sure all your writing answers them.
Intro and Conclusion First
Once you have established what to include in your writing, start composing the introduction and the closure. The beginning section introduces the writing topic, while the end section conveys the message you want to deliver.
Writing both parts is essential for you to continue structuring the body. This process will clarify your writing goal, thus affecting the research process for crafting the body.
Fill the Body
The answers to the questions of each section will be the body’s main elements.
I recommend conducting comprehensive exploration beforehand, as pausing to research while writing can cut your train of thought. You can explore each section and turn the data into sentences to avoid getting distracted.
Remember that you are writing a draft, so focus only on filling out the necessary information in each section. It is alright to leave strange sentences and paragraphs as long as you have the facts covered. Try not to edit yourself as you write, since it can disturb your writing flow.
Compare to the Plan
Now that you have filled your writing body, go back to the list of questions in your draft. Run through each of them to see whether they have all been answered in the body. It also does not hurt to find a way to include the unanswered ones in your work.
Remember the goal of your writing. If it is to be as informative as possible about a certain topic, do not just write answers to the queries on the draft. Go a step further by including the must-know information relevant to the subject to educate your readers.
Congratulations, you have created your first draft. All that is left to do is to improve it.
Improving Your Draft
While having a rough draft can already ease your work, giving it a last run-through will help you fill in the gaps you may have left behind earlier.
Here is how you can take your first draft to the next level.
Rework Section by Section
Reworking your draft is the last step you need to take before you begin to edit. To do so, read through your outline section by section, and see if there are any sentences you can expand or need to remove to improve clarity.
While reworking the outline, watch for phrases that lack useful information. Avoid including sentences that leave readers with more questions. To overcome this block, do more research and ensure the data are digestible by your target audience.
Keep in mind not to over-explain, as doing so will overwhelm the readers. This can be done by identifying your target audience first. Knowing your audience’s background will give you a better idea of their level of understanding.
When Do You Stop?
Take another look at the list of questions you compiled in the beginning. Once you have answered all of them, you should stop revising.
A good indication to stop revising is when you cannot add any more meaningful information to your writing. Remember that writing informative content does not mean stuffing as much information as you can in it.
Draft Writing Tips
Now that you know how to write the first draft, I will elaborate on some extra tips for writing efficiently and effectively.
Use Online Tools
The internet is a wonderful place filled with all kinds of resources for those who need it, including authors. Tons of free writing tools are available to help writers pour their thoughts into words effectively.
Below are some of the best tools I highly recommend for all aspiring writers.
While sentence effectiveness, grammars, and vocabularies are essential in writing culture, many writers focus too much on those details. As a result, they neglect the content’s essence or over-complicated the writing.
Grammarly aims to solve this problem by assisting writers in revising their work. This writing assistance tool can detect ineffective sentences and plagiarism as well as fix grammatical errors in one click.
Thus, writers can focus on structuring their thoughts and avoid getting distracted by common writing mistakes.
If Grammarly focuses on fixing writing errors, then the free Hemingway Editor ensures your writing has excellent readability.
The Hemingway Editor has a separate write and edit mode — the latter hides its corrections to eliminate distractions.
Due to its functionality, this tool is optimized and most suitable for content marketing writers. It detects complex sentences and weak adverbs, ensuring your writing is bold and clear. Not only that, but the Hemingway Editor can also show your content’s reading time estimation.
The Hemingway Editor supports WordPress and Medium integrations, allowing you to post your work on those platforms after editing it directly.
Scrivener is the perfect app for managing large projects. This tool breakdowns your writing’s headings or chapters into different parts to allow more in-depth coverage of the topic.
The multi-column layout makes it easier to organize your thoughts and supporting data. That way, you do not have to switch tabs or close the app to do your research.
This tool is beneficial for a seamless first draft creation, as it enables you to refer to your notes and research material without having to stop writing.
Set a Deadline
You may obsess over a draft and keep redoing it until it pleases you. However, over-revising a draft will not only consume a lot of time but may also decrease its quality.
That is why you should always set a deadline for your work. Having a deadline helps you stay both inspired and motivated, as you will know precisely when to start and when to stop.
Detailed research is crucial for any type of writing. Doing so allows a writer to deliver more intricate and detailed information through their writing.
For fiction writers, the exploration gives better nuance and feel, making the readers feel more immersed in the story. Meanwhile, content writers can benefit from having thorough information about a specific topic, answering questions that their readers may have.
Dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of the topic that you want to write. Type down the search results in separate, organized notes. You can go back to them when you write a different piece about a similar topic, thus saving you time and energy.
Conducting competitive analysis may also bring plenty of benefits. You can learn about different kinds of content on the market and discover any information gaps for you to cover.
Get a Second Opinion
Finally, let your close ones give some feedback on your writing. This is particularly useful when you are writing about a general topic. Since they may not be your target audience, their input can improve your content’s readability.
Remember, opinions are highly subjective. Therefore, I recommend asking for feedback from multiple people for more insights and higher accuracy.
All in all, a first draft serves as the blueprint of your content. Whether you are writing a short story or a paper, having a draft helps you organize your ideas into cohesive, informative writing.
Now that you know all there is to learn about drafts, all that is left to do is start writing your first draft. I hope my tips on how to write a draft can ease your writing journey.
For any questions, do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section below.