Drafting Versus Crafting

One of the slowest ways to write is to do it with your reader looking over your shoulder. The audience, editor, supervisor, or colleague in your head can easily become a powerful judgemental voice that slows every sentence and questions every word. Much has been written in the field of creative writing about ‘freeflow’ writing – just letting it out. When it comes to academic writing, this is also a powerful approach, especially when set in an overall view of the writing process.

What if you gave yourself permission to write messy drafts? What if, during your writing time, you did not allow yourself to rephrase, move commas, check references, or move paragraphs around? What if you got the bones down first and saved these things for after?

Our suggestion, and that of many writers and writing coaches, is to let yourself – and, yes, in some cases, force yourself – draft without judging what shows up on the page. Give yourself something to work with. Get a half-baked idea down there so the fully-cooked one can follow. Start with something. It is almost always easier to sit down and revise than it is to face the blinking cursor on an empty screen. And, you will get more written if you are not constantly stopping along the way because that internal critic is telling you something is not quite right. Or course something’s not quite right! That’s the whole point of a draft!

Writing time is not revising time. Revising time is revising time. Decide before you begin each period of writing, am I drafting or crafting? Getting the words down or making them better?

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