The first draft - Deepstash

deepstash

Beta

Get an account to save ideas & make your own & organize them how you wish.

deepstash

Beta

How to Edit Your Own Writing

The first draft

The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.

The time you put into editing, reworking and refining turns your first draft into a second draft, and then into a third. If you keep refining it over days or weeks or even years, it eventually becomes something great.

964 SAVES


This is a professional note extracted from an online article.

Read more efficiently

Save what inspires you

Remember anything

IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Edit Your Own Writing

How to Edit Your Own Writing

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/smarter-living/how-to-edit-your-own-writing.html

nytimes.com

7

Key Ideas

The first draft

The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.

The time you put into editing, reworking and refining turns your first draft into a second draft, and then into a third. If you keep refining it over days or weeks or even years, it eventually becomes something great.

Common errors

Most writing mistakes are widespread, but good writers just get better at spotting them. Some things you'll learn to watch for are:

  • Overuse of jargon and business-speak, like "utilize" or "endeavor" instead of "use" or "try."
  • Clichés are stale phrases that have lost their impact and novelty through overuse. If you are used to seeing it in print, don't use it.
  • The passive voice. The subject of the sentence should be the person or thing taking action, not the thing being acted on. "Harry wrote this article," is better than "This article was written by Harry."
  • Rambling. When you are not sure what you want to say, it is easy to phrase it in three or four different ways. A single concise sentence is generally better.

Give it some space

When you write something, you get very close to it. It is nearly impossible to distance yourself from it straight away to edit properly.

The longer you can leave a draft before editing, the better. Half an hour to two days is enough of a break to edit well. When you do edit, read your work out loud. You'll catch more problems and get a better feel for how everything flows.

If in doubt, cut it

It is more likely you've written too much than too little.
The rule for most writers is, "If in doubt, cut it." If a word, sentence, or paragraph isn't necessary, delete it. It will clarify what you're trying to say.

Spend the most time on the beginning

The beginning of anything you write is the most important part. If you don't catch someone's attention at the start, you won't hold it later.

You should spend a disproportionate amount of time working on the first few sentences, paragraphs, or pages.

Keep the structure in mind

The structure is what your writing hangs on. 

  • A topic sentence that is followed by supporting paragraphs and a conclusion work best.
  • Break up a series of paragraphs into concise points and, where necessary, insert subheads.
  • For longer pieces, the structure will need a lot of work. Narratives need to flow, and arguments need to build. 

Use all the resources you can

  • A recommended how-to guide on writing good, clear English is “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.

  • “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell is also worth studying to avoid “ugly and inaccurate” writing.
  • A writing assistant like Grammarly can flag common writing, spelling, and grammatical errors.
  • A good thesaurus is also essential for finding just the right word.
  • A second pair of eyes. Ask relatives and friends to read over your work.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Jordan Peterson Writing Template
Jordan Peterson Writing Template
Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at The University of Toronto, created a template for his students that takes them step by step through the detailed process of writing an essay.  
Jordan Peterson
Jordan Peterson
"Thinking makes you act effectively in the world.  Thinking makes you win the battles you undertake...If you can think and speak and write you are absolutely deadly!  NOTHING can get in your way.  That's why you learn to write...It's the most powerful weapon you can possibly provide someone with."
The Levels of Resolution

An essay exists at multiple levels:

  • The choice of words
  • The formation of sentences
  • The arrangement of sentences in a paragraph
  • The arrangement of paragraphs in a logical progression, beginning to end
  • The essay as a whole

A good essay works at every one of those levels simultaneously.

10 more ideas

Writing is intimidating. There’s this expectation of artful precision, mercurial grammatical rules, and the weird angst that comes with writing for other people. You start with a tidy nu...
Writing is Deliberate
Choosing the words to describe your work means you’re doing it on purpose. 

You’re going on the record as someone who thinks about why they do what they do, and understands how each decision affects the results. And developing this knack for critical thinking will also make you better at what you do.

The value of solid writing skills
  • Being a good writer helps you stand out from the crowd.
  • Repeated writing mistakes affect your reputation and credibility in the future.
  • Your writing is ...
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut

"Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing.

The “5 Ws + H” method

... for establishing what and how you will write:

  • Who: Who is my audience?
  • What: What do they need to know?
  • When: When does this apply, when did this happen, or when do they need to know it by?
  • Where: Where is this happening?
  • Why: Why do they need this information?
  • How: How should they use this information?

10 more ideas

Too much noise, too little attention
Too much noise, too little attention

Nobody wants to read anything you write at work. It's not personal though. We just happen to live in a world where there is so much information asking for our attention.

We can take a...

Write less often

Things that are rare and dwindling become more attractive and are perceived as more valuable. The less we write, the more valuable our writing becomes. 

Refrain from responding immediately. If another recipient should answer, give the person the right of first response. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need to send this now?
  • If not, do I need to send it at all?
  • If so, does more than one person really need it?
Fewer words

We long for clarity and for other people to say what they mean in as few words as possible.

Making wordy sentences that lose their fluency due to needless complexity in a text negatively affects the receiver of your message. In short: big is bad.

6 more ideas

Writing with good formatting ≠ good writing.
Writing with good formatting ≠ good writing.

Formatting with paragraphs, an introduction and a conclusion is not the central component of good writing.

The underlying purpose behind writing is to communicate information and is co...

Mind mapping: A tool for all writers

Mind Mapping is a tool to support writing processes. It provides a space for negotiating the tension between form and formlessness—the negotiation that is at the heart of the creative process.

Break it down

Big projects seem overwhelming. Usually, when we're faced with projects like that, we tend to push them to the side in favor of smaller tasks that are easier to tackle.

Turn a big project int...

Make an outline

Having a clear sense of structure in mind when you start writing is really helpful.

So make sure you generate an outline. Start by making a list of the various sections you think you’ll need in your writing project. You can reorder them later. After that, make a list of the more specific elements you need in each section.

Just get something down

Don't get stuck in the process of trying to find the perfect words. Start by drafting something.

Write down a bunch of sentences that relate to the outline you constructed. Then, you can go back and edit, to get rid of everything that doesn’t fit.

one more idea

Revising a paper
Revision starts once you have a finished first draft of your paper. As you reread what you have written, you might notice a few places wher...
Tips for Revision
  • Give yourself time between writing the first draft and looking at it again for revision. A few hours can give you enough time to see it with fresh eyes that are more likely to spot trouble areas.
  • Read your paper out loud. Sometimes speaking the words helps you get a better feel for the flow of a paper.
  • Do not worry about the editing yet. Get the big ideas down and leave the details for later.
  • Make sure your paper is organized in a logical way. Make your thesis statement and follow it up with arguments, quotes, and evidence in a way that makes your purpose clear.
Editing a paper
It happens once you have a draft you are confident in as a whole. In this process, you are going to look for the details that may have slipped by you during the writing process. Spelling errors are often caught by spellcheck but do not trust this tool to catch everything. Word usage is also a common problem to catch in editing. Is there a word you use repetitively? Or did you write there when you meant their? Details like this seem small on an individual basis, but as they pile up they can distract your reader. 

one more idea

Naive expectations
Naive expectations

In relation to self-improvement, we often create idealized systems with unnatural rules and regulations. We also naively believe that we will find a way to stick to our rigid plans when life gets r...

Build on what worked

When a plan or resolution fails, don't dismiss it to try a new, equally rigid resolution. Build on what worked.

When your plan fails, the best you can do is to look back and see which parts of it worked; which parts you found fun and easy and which you couldn’t handle even when you were full of enthusiasm.

one more idea

Starting To Write

Writing can be a lonely, thankless job, filled with rejection. But it can also be very rewarding when your text resonates with people.

Ask yourself why you want to write and what do you wa...

Choosing a Time And Place To Write
  • Results come when you work at your craft consistently every day.
  • It’s good to write first thing in the morning, as you are more creative upon waking.
  • If you have a job, your writing should take place outside your work time. 
  • Choose a “writing spot” and keep it consistent.
Set Small Goals

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to follow advanced techniques early on. There is endless advice on writing, but in the beginning, all that matters is getting words onto the page every day.

Set small, easy to accomplish goals and build upon it. Focus not on the end result, but on the process. 

2 more ideas