Writer's Web

The First Draft
From: Writing Tips by Professor Elizabeth Outka

For short papers, it's often best to write the first draft in one sitting. You'll have an easier time making transitions and focusing your argument.

Once you have a first draft, print it out and leave it alone (a few days is best, but even a few hours are better than nothing). Without some distance from your writing, you won't be able to see gaps, leaps of logic, confused ideas, etc.

You should print out your draft in a different font than what you will use later, or in a bigger font size - the idea is to unsettle your picture of a "final" version; it's easier to edit and change a draft that looks "different" than a finished product (and remember, a draft is different than a finished product).

Edit your draft carefully. First, look at global issues: organization, focus, argument, etc. Most drafts require massive re-arranging. Smaller problems (run-on sentences, awkward phrasing, etc.) can be addressed once you have fixed the big problems.

Remember, most of the writing techniques discussed in these handouts are best considered AFTER you have a draft. If you try to keep all the rules in mind as you write, you are likely to feel overwhelmed and anxious, and these are not good ways to call the muse to your side. The key to good writing is re-writing. Even professional writers produce many drafts to achieve a readable product.

Back to "The First Draft" or the English main page.
Copyright Info