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The Single Reason Why Many Don't Write by oriloko: 5:39pm On Jan 09, 2014
The ABC of Writing Well Series {Series 4}

D—for Draft and then Edit
Editing your ‘’first shitty drafts’’ is what separates the amateur writers from the pros.
The problem with many people is that they think their first draft of writing should be perfect. Once it isn’t (it can’t), they feel like death warmed over. ‘’Writing isn’t for me.’’
And they do what millions do: give up.
We’ve all been there.
You sit at the table, staring at the empty page/screen. The world needs to read your stuff, the product of your genius, you tell yourself. If you don’t want to write, you don’t write. But now that you want to do it, damn it, it had better be perfect.
You don’t want to be mocked. You hate being called a ‘’childish writer.’’
But here you’re, hunched before the screen or paper. No word comes to your aid. How do you start? Panic seizes you, and you begin to sweat.
All of a sudden you take the plunge and write furiously without a stop for an hour.
But when you go over what you’ve written, the mocking editor within you tells you it’s all trash. You’ve written trash.
The world would mock you.
So you tear the pages off, rumpled them in your hand to form a ball and toss it in the waste-basket.
You stalk off in rage.
Editing is Writing
When you read what great writers have written, you wonder how they did it. We often make the mistake of thinking they sat down at a table and wrote a perfect piece on the first attempt.
No, friend. It doesn’t happen that way.
Great writers come up with the first drafts which they keep from the public. It’s what you do with your first ‘’shitty drafts’’ that shows if you’re a great or terrible writer.
The first draft is the child’s draft. You sit down and write without any interruptions. You write freely on what you know about the subject. Don’t bother about mistakes or corrections at this stage.
Let your mind roam wide and pour it all down on paper.
This is the idea of the shitty first drafts. Anne Lamott says this about them: ‘’All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.’’
So you can see that you’ve been too hard on yourself.
Professor Kenneth W. Davis says many people don’t write well because they don’t know the process. ‘’But writing can be easier. The secret is to do it wrong the first time.’’
Once you think you can get it right the first draft, you’re finished. You’re toast. Because you’d be doing the writing process inefficiently.
Our English teacher and the school system have taught us the wrong way of writing. You’re given a topic. The time is set. You must either get it right within the allotted time or you’re done for.
Ever since we’ve had the idea that if we can’t get it right the first time something’s wrong with us.
I didn’t write this article at a sitting. It took me a week. I had to think about it in the showers and on my bed.
You can’t get it right the first draft. Thinking otherwise is a fantasy. It’s a mirage trying to make well-formed writing the first draft.
Great writers’ first drafts are like a dog’s meal—shitty.
A legitimate question you may ask is: how about the business letter your boss wants drafted this minute? Do you have the luxury of waiting and thinking over it? How about if you’re a speech writer to a politician who needs to give a speech right now?
In business, you always have samples you can adapt for your use. Many organisations have a model writing format. Adapt it and tweak it to suit your boss’ needs.
As a political writer, you must always be prepared. Using Google Documents/Docstoc or any documents-sharing site will be a great help.
After that what remains is editing.
Then the Editing
This is how to edit your first and second terrible drafts:
• Take out all repetitions of ideas. {see Series 2}
• Cross out incoherent and unclear paragraphs. {see Series 3}
• Cut out unnecessary details.
• Make sure you arrange your ideas in meaningful and sequential order.
• Check it out to make sure your grammar’s solid.
• You’ve got to kill off boring descriptions and weak sentences.
• Take out fatty writing. Be cruel on pampered and rogue vermin that litter your writing. Be ruthless at editing.
Someone’s sagely observed that writing is re-writing. How correct.
The world’s work is done in that fashion. Any other road leads to hell.


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