I don’t know about everybody else, but for me one of the problems with the classic ‘bad first draft’ is that the stuff sometimes isn’t in the right order.
On the other hand, it’s better to get something approximating the right order of ideas in the first place. That old adage of the bad first draft being better than no first draft is very true. My take? Try these tricks. You’ll need some paper, pen scissors and sellotape (yes, writing IS a craft :-)).
1. Jot some notes down before writing anything else. Use two pieces of paper. Write the ideas down in any order, as they come to you, on the first. Then look at them, figure out if they work better in a different order, and write them down that way on the second page. Fifteen minutes planning can save hours of revision. You already have your large-scale plan (you do have a plan…don’t you?) – but that works on smaller scale during drafting.
2. Print the draft out. Spread the pages around on the floor. Paper has more area than a monitor – you get to see the whole of your writing, in a block. Skim-read it. Can you see patterns emerging? Do some parts go better in one place than another?
3. Mark the printout in pen-and-ink to give it those directions. Use arrows, stickies, whatever works, to highlight which blocks go where. Or maybe cut the pages up and tape them together in the different order.
4. Carefully carry the taped pages to the computer. Now transfer those amendments to the version on your computer. OK, yes, that might take some time.
5. And now – the final step. Re-style it again. The cut-and-paste swap around usually leaves jagged edges in the text – they’ll need fixing. Then read it again. Does it still make sense?
I find this approach works pretty well for me. Do these methods work for you?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014