I’m always telling new freelance writers that they have to sit down and actually put words on paper or on their screen if they expect to get good enough to get paid. Which is true.
Of course, I’m talking about getting a rough draft of the article or blog post or sales letter or web copy done.
Drafts are the first step in a writing project and it’s not by accident they are called rough drafts. And they are likely to be very rough – in fact, that’s the point.
Here are the reasons writing a rough draft works:
- Let’s you dump your ideas about your topic on paper (or on screen) without the “help” of your internal editor.
- Gets you actually writing rather than planning to write or wishing you had.
- Done regularly will help you form the discipline of writing.
Writing a rough draft gets you started
When you sit down and just write about something all sorts of things tend to appear on the paper or screen. Exactly how you begin is really up to you. Generally I start with the first idea in my head, often the idea that sparked the writing in the first place.
For example, the idea for this post appeared in my mind while I was standing in line at the grocery store. I found myself wondering just how freelance writers understood my instruction to “write.” Did they see it as a command, or a suggestion or did they realize I was actually sharing how I get writing done? As I actually began to draft this post – yes, I did get the groceries put away – I realized that what I really wanted to say is that the only way my ideas become clear is when I start to write them down. It’s in the writing that I sort out my message as it were. My own experience has shown me that we simply must begin somewhere, anywhere, with our writing. Without that beginning, without those words appearing on screen, writing just doesn’t happen.
Drafting is a way to get all the ideas on the paper – the good, the bad, and everything in between. Writing a rough draft is usually done pretty quickly, although when you’re doing a draft of a big project, like a book, it will be done in multiple, many multiple shortish sessions.
Rough drafting is real writing
Writing a rough draft means you are actually writing. Drafting is a perfect way to get started instead of just thinking about it, or planning to do it.
Oh sure, you’ve got to think about what you’re going to write and working on a schedule so you have time to write are good things, as long as they don’t get in the way of of actually putting putting words on paper.
Drafting eliminates the unreachable goal of perfection
When you know those words you’re putting on paper are part of a rough draft you’re not going to be trapped by some myth of perfection. Instead, you can just keep writing until you’ve got a complete draft reading for editing. Or, if it’s a long work, you can do the same with each section or chapter. When rough drafting, perfection, whatever that might mean to you, just isn’t an issue. Many find that freeing.
Writing a rough draft regularly builds discipline
One way to look at the discipline of writing is as a habit. I know that I’m going to write every weekday morning. That knowledge helps my mind be ready to write. It’s much easier if I know every piece of writing I start is “only” a rough draft.
Writing regularly, whatever your writing schedule is is the only way to get good enough to get paid. Or to get your book done or get your blog established or enough articles written and sold to make a living.
How do you use rough drafts?
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