The Writing Process: Draft

Once you’ve planned out how you want
your paper to look and sound, it’s time to start writing the actual paper. The
drafting stage is one of the biggest pieces of the entire process as you take
all of the brainstorming and planning you have accomplished and weave them
together to show the audience what you think and feel. Remember that your first
draft will not be your final one. Think of your first draft as your first step,
you will end up changing it at least once, so don’t worry about making it
perfect the first time. A coach would never put a player in the game who had
never practiced, so you should never turn in a draft that has not been tested at
least once. Give yourself time. If you wait until the last minute to write your
paper, you will not have time to revise and rethink your ideas. Make manageable
goals for yourself such as I plan to select a topic through brainstorming one
week after the project has been assigned or I will have my first draft finished
two weeks before it is due so I can revise it. Don’t set ridiculous goals for
yourself but also don’t set goals that waste time. Be reasonable with yourself
and your abilities and plan to spend a great deal of time drafting and revising,
you’ll be moving between these two stages a great deal. Support your point.
Once you have established what your main point will be, use research to support
your ideas. Be specific rather than general and use details to prove your
points as strongly as possible. When in doubt, be obvious. We will never
know unless you tell us. Also consider the rhetorical modes you identified for
your paper back in the planning stage. Make sure that the format of your paper
and your supporting evidence always match. Use citations from your research.
Using quotes and material from other sources can lend your paper a great deal
of credibility in the eyes of others. However, keep in mind that this is your
paper and should not be a bunch of quotes from other sources rearranged
into a new paper. Your research should never replace your writing. Strive for a
balance between your thoughts and the thoughts of others. Clarify your point.
There are three qualities that should be present when you discuss your main point:
plainness, brevity, and variety. Plainness refers to the voice of your paper. Be as
clear as you can so that your points cannot possibly be misunderstood.
Use a voice that you would use with an older adult with whom you’re having an
intelligent conversation. Brevity means that you should be short and to the
point. Say what you mean to say and be done with it. Don’t use long, complicated
phrases or flowery language, using active voice will help you avoid this, make sure
your verbs are doing something in every sentence. Variety refers to your sentence
structure. Don’t use the same subject-verb-object format for every
sentence you write. Experiment with different kinds of sentences and
experiment with sentence length, the whole point of the drafting process is
to figure out how you want your paper to read and look and you cannot effectively
do that in one draft, so play. View your draft as a conversation. Your paper draft
should be flexible and open to change. Why should your papers point remain the
same if you change your mind? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with changing
your opinion or points as long as you make sure your evidence still supports
them. Just like a spoken conversation, a paper is a written conversation with an
invisible audience. You are creating a dialogue that will constantly change and
adapt to new circumstances and research. Begin in the middle. Many students get
stuck in their introductions because they can’t find just the right way to
begin their papers. This ends up wasting time. If the introduction is giving you
trouble, begin in the middle or at the end. Write on an idea you’re excited
about. Write in any order you choose. No one made a rule that you had to begin at
the beginning. Sometimes beginning in the middle will
give you bursts of inspiration for other sections of your paper. Write these ideas
down so you don’t forget. Write around problem spots. If you reach
a spot that’s giving you trouble, write yourself a note and move on.
Highlight or underline the spot or keep a log about sections you’re unsure about.
It’s perfectly fine to make notes to yourself within your drafts for later as
long as you remember to take them out at the end. This allows you to create the
sections of your paper you feel the most strongly about and come back to the
weaker parts later. Save multiple drafts. Every time you open a computer file to
begin a new draft or edit an old one, save that draft under a new name using a
number or letter system, this way you can not only track the progress of your
writing but you can also access deleted material. Be sure to backup your hard
drive often or save your files on a portable
jump drive or external hard drive to protect them. Drafting is the phase where
you can experiment with your points and evidence and see how everything fits
together. Don’t be afraid to play around with order, format or structure. You can
always change what you’ve written so go ahead and write it down and see how it
looks. No one will see any of your drafts but your final one if you don’t want
them to, so allow yourself to be flexible and even a bit silly with your writing.
See you in the next stage.

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