English Composition I
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This phase of the writing process is called drafting because that's what it involves: writing drafts. That's right, plural: draftS. One of the main elements of the writing process that every writer has to accept is that writing is not done as an all-in-one event.
Take this information sheet as an example. I have been thinking about how I want to approach this topic for a while now. I've discussed it with my colleagues, and bounced some ideas off of them. I sat down and wrote out a simple outline of what I wanted to write about and the general order that I needed to use to present the ideas. I then have to DRAFT the actual sheet. I can do all the thinking and planning that I want, but until I actually commit words to paper, I haven't written anything.
The main piece of advice about Drafting is: DO IT. If you are truly following the writing process, then drafting is simply about getting the initial set of words down on paper. The INITIAL set of words. Always, Always, Always remember that you will write multiple drafts once you begin revising and editing.
Let the pressure ease. Don't feel the burden of writing on your shoulders. The reason why writing/drafting is so difficult for so many people is that they are trying to do too much at one time. Don't try to accomplish the entire writing process all at once. Remember, writer's block typically happens because the writer is trying to generate information, organize it, write it, revise it and proofread it all at once. Slow down the process; take each step as its own piece of the process, and you will have much more success as a writer.
If you have followed the writing process, drafting the first draft should be a relief, not a chore or burden. You will finally be able to get those ideas down in a substantial form. Most writers find the words practically flowing out of them. Especially when they remember that THEY DON'T HAVE TO GET IT PERFECT THE FIRST TIME. Knowing that you WILL revise, and thus you don't have to try for perfection is the #1 step to take to improve your attitude about writing.
I do want to encourage everyone, if they aren't already, to use word processing. Word processing works wonderfully in conjunction with the writing process to relieve the pressures of multiple drafts and revision. Once you learn to cut and paste, revision is no longer as much of a chore. Rather than focusing on the physical act of re-writing, you can actually focus on the mental act of revising, or re-visioning, your paper.
(by the way, once I've written this first draft, I'll have my colleagues read and evaluate this information sheet. I'll then revise based on their recommendations and my own critical reading. Then I'll proofread/edit for grammar problems. And then, I'm still not done. I will continue to come back and tweak this information sheet until some time down the road, I decide to pitch it and start over again. THAT'S the writing process -- you are never really done -- there are ALWAYS changes that can be made. That's also the sign of a true writer: someone who is never completely satisfied with what they've produced.)