Are You Drafting Efficiently?


—Bite-sized advice for better business writing—

June 25, 2019 

Are You Drafting Efficiently?

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper.”

— Anne Lamott

A first draft is the initial working document that emerges as you transform your notes and ideas into a piece of writing. 

As you write your first draft, don't expect perfection. Focus on your ideas rather than spelling, grammar, word usage, and other writing mechanics. Stopping to fix every error will only slow your progress and interrupt your train of thought.  

Here are some other tips that will help you write a quick and efficient first draft:

  • First, collect all your prewriting materials. Your planning and research can provide a roadmap for your first draft. Read your notes to get an overall feeling for the information you’ve gathered. Arrange key points in a sensible order.
  • Mark important ideas. Note the specific data, facts, or statements you want to include in your work.
  • Develop a logical flow. You may have used a graphic organizer during your prewriting, anything from a simple list to a full-sentence outline. Whatever organizational plan you’ve made, follow it; but feel free to veer from that plan as you draft. New ideas will often occur to you as your work takes shape.
  • Write to the end. If possible, write your first draft in one sitting, from beginning to end. Avoid dwelling too long on one section, and don’t start revising. Just get it all down. After a break, pick up the thread by rereading what you’ve written so far, but avoid polishing that part. Instead, move ahead to complete the first draft.

When you’ve finished, you may read through your draft to add an idea you have obviously missed, or to delete anything distracting. But it is not time for a full revision, or to look for spelling, grammar, or usage errors. Instead, set your draft aside and take a break. You can come back to it later, with a fresh eye.

How is drafting different from writing?

Drafting is just one step of a larger writing process. Without giving due attention to the other steps, your writing may not achieve its full potential. Watch this brief video to understand how drafting fits within the overall process.

Watch The Writing Process on YouTube

Try It Out!

Imagine that your supervisor asks you to write an email outlining the work you will do tomorrow. Write the first draft of your email. Let your ideas flow freely. Do not stop to correct any errors. Write the whole draft before you pause to consider what you have written.

What was the experience like? Were you tempted to stop and fix errors? While you may not write all your first drafts in this way, this type of exercise can help you discover great ideas organically rather than interrupting your train of thought for grammar and correctness.


Get More Support

Check out Write for Business for more tips and strategies to follow throughout the writing process.