To Draft or Not to Draft

Engineers (and engineering students) write a lot. The sheer volume of reports, proposals, conceptual design documents, on top of all an engineer’s other tasks, can tempt you want to write your documents in one sitting. “That must be the most efficient way, right”? Wrong.

Here are 3 reasons why good writers recommend writing multiple drafts:

1. Drafting is More Efficient

A rough draft frees you from the rigors of sentence style, punctuation, and meticulous structure. With this liberty comes speed, enabling the writer to complete the document and get all their ideas on paper. Editing and refining while writing, on the other hand, interrupts  the writer’s train of thought leading to forgotten ideas and slower progress.

2. Drafts Avoid the “What was I Thinking?!!” Curse

Curse You know you’ve been there: you set out to write your magnum opus in one sitting, and finish the last sentence thinking you had written an award-winning report. When you  review it the following morning an hour before it’s due, you realize, to your horror, it is not the masterpiece you had thought. Writing a rough draft gives you enough time and space away from the document to adjust your perspective and catch problems that you might not perceive on the first run through. It also gives you an opportunity to have someone else read over your document (like the Engineering Communication Tutoring Centre).

3. Drafting Improves Organization

Everybody wants a clean, clear, and well-organized document. It is much easier to impose this kind of refinement on a completed text than on a work in progress because you will have all the parts in front of you; now you can see how they will best fit together.


Keep in mind that drafting is not necessarily pure freewriting or brainstorming; there is a little more strategy  behind doing it well. Have a look at our Engineering Communication Handbook for tips