Drafting your document should be a relatively quick and easy stage in the writing process, if you’ve planned and outlined your document well. In fact, the time spent on this step will be likely inversely proportional to the amount of time spent in the planning and outlining stages. (See Planning and Outlining)
Following your Outline:
If you have a strong outline (especially if you’ve outlined for content), then the drafting stage is as simple as filling the prose under each header, and deciding:
- What the goal of that section of the report is (should have been done in the outlining for content stage).
- Whether or not to use the outline heading as an actual heading in the document.
- How to break these individual headings into smaller sections, even paragraphs to accomplish your writing task.
When you have a clear answer for the above, then you can begin actually drafting the document.
- Write your draft quickly, and don’t worry about getting every word or comma perfect the first time through – you’ll have enough time for this during the revision process
- If you get stuck on a section or get ‘writer’s block’ with a certain part of the draft, skip it and move on to the next section; return to it later once you’ve had time away from that difficult section
- If you aren’t happy with parts of your draft, keep writing regardless – you’ll have the opportunity to return to it later and revise. Nobody evaluates your first draft, only your final: consider it a rehearsal
Though you shouldn’t dwell on every sentence and grammatical error during the drafting phase, you should pay close attention to organization of ideas:
- As you go, reevaluate your outline; as you begin to fill in the outlined structure with content, you may begin to see problems or places where addition/subtraction is necessary
- Begin to implement organizational strategies on a paragraph level in your draft
- A paragraph should have a prominent and accurate topic sentence near the beginning that establishes the main idea of the paragraph, and the organizational strategy used to back up that idea
- An effective strategy is to write all of the topic sentences of a section first, the begin filling in each individual paragraph
- Pay attention to transitions – points at which we move between ideas – both within paragraphs, and between them
- Focus on openings and closings (where transitions commonly occur) of sections and paragraphs to establish coherence
But most importantly, get it done: the first draft is really a starting point, not a finishing one, so do not labour over ever single word or sentence. You’ll have lots of time to do that in the revision and editing stage of the writing process (See Revision, Editing, and Proofreading).