Writing eTips UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You
April 2007 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

The Writing Process: Drafting, Part I—Writing the First Draft
Last month, we discussed prewriting—preparing to write by gathering and organizing materials. This month, let’s take a look at drafting—the next step in the writing process.

Drafting is your first effort to convey your ideas by turning your notes into coherent sentences and paragraphs. Here are some tips to help you create that first draft.

  • Find the right environment. Gather all your notes and information, set aside a block of time, and find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Look through your information. Highlight important facts or statements and jot down notes in the margins.
  • Decide on your focus. Consider possible openings and closings, and use those to guide your writing.
  • Begin to write. Don’t worry about creating a finished product. Just concentrate on getting your thoughts down in an organized way, and let your natural voice come through.
  • Move logically from one idea to the next. Some common methods of organization include moving from general to specific, from problem to solution, or from familiar to new information.
  • Group similar ideas into paragraphs. Give each paragraph a main idea, and open with a single sentence that clearly presents that idea. Use the rest of the paragraph's sentences to support the idea.

When you’re finished, set your writing aside for a while so you can come back to it with a fresh eye.

You can learn more about drafting on pages 126-129 of Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing & Communicating in the Workplace.

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That Little Extra
Sometimes the way you say something is even more important than what you say. This is especially true when delivering criticism. When you need to make a negative comment about performance, for example, put a nonaccusatory spin on it. Instead of saying, “You didn’t perform well,” consider saying, “I was disappointed in the outcome,” which focuses on the result, not the person. Instead of writing, “What’s going on with you? This looks terrible!”—encourage the person: “You must have had a bad day. How can I help you achieve better results?” People who are treated with respect are happier and more productive. Learn to criticize constructively, and you will be rewarded with loyal coworkers who do their best.

Join Our Writers’ Forum
We invite you to be part of our monthly eTips. Each month we pose a question or problem regarding the use of writing in business. Send us your reply along with your name, your company’s name, and a brief description of what you do. We will print the best responses, and you will get your name out to our more than 5,000 subscribers! (We reserve the right to edit your remarks for fit and suitability.)

April Writers’ Forum Topic
What was your best writing experience at work? Did you write a successful grant proposal? Create a company brochure? Receive positive feedback on writing well done? Share your experience and your feelings about it.

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write "April Writers’ Forum" in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

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Coming in May:
The Writing Process: Drafting, Part II—Writing Openings, Middles, and Closings
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