5 principles for a better first draft
25th January 2021
Since starting to write daily, I have been collecting tips to improve my writing and get to something reasonable as fast as possible. Here’s what I have so far:
1. Write a messy first draft fast and revise later
Often people mix up writing and editing at the same time - this is dangerous because you move from creative thinking to analytical/critical thinking and back again in rapid succession. This is multitasking, which we all know produces sub-par results. If you need to research things, just use a placeholder, and research once you’ve outlined something.
2. Sit on it for a while
This is not so easy to do on a daily cadence, but if you draft something in the morning, review it at lunch or in the evening. Coming back to it with fresh eyes gives you some distance from it and you can edit more objectively and clearly.
3. Remove the fluff
Does what you have said reinforce your idea? If not remove it - don’t waste your readers time - get to the point.
4. Plan and outline before writing content
Think high level - what are the key points you want to make? Get them in there as headlines first, before revisiting with content. This also helps with the previous point.
5. Read it out loud
Having taught students for over 20 years, my good friend Chris Murphy said the number one piece of advice he gave them was:
Read it out loud. If you do that you often spot things. Because you’ve changed the context: from in your head to out loud.
It sounds stupidly simple, but I’ve tried it with my last three posts, and immediately made changes for the better.
What’s working for you in your writing/blogging process? Do let me know!