Improve posts by creating a first draft

This post is in response to Salted Caramel’s Blogging Insights 3.0 – 2; which contains questions about the writing and drafting process when blogging.

I hope you will enjoy my responses to drtanya’s questions.

woman writing in a notebook with an empty coffee cup and her smartphone beside her right hand
Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Do you write directly on a device? Are you old school, do you write on paper first?

I’m old school.

I write out my first draft with pen and paper. If my post is straightforward and short, then I can (and do) type it directly onto a device – particularly when I’m travelling as it can be effective to input directly onto WP via my smartphone, but my preference would always be pen and paper.

Although I’m writing this out longhand, sitting on the train on my morning commute, coffee in hand, I believe this is something I could type directly onto my blog as I’m answering factual questions that I find fairly easy to answer. However, when I’m writing longer, more compex posts – for example when I’m writing something about academic practice or a piece that requires research, I will draft it out in “long hand”.

I find it easier to edit with work in front of me, rather than working on a screen, so i’ve seen me print off typed up work for editing. I am sure that I will also edit this as I transfer it to my blog.

Personally, for me, writing by hand is therapeutic, calming and it allows me to be more creative. Writing old school allows me to ponder my work, developing ideas as the words flow. I find the whole process reflective and cathartic.

Maybe it comes from 10-15 years in an earlier career as a legal secretary, typing is just a functional process done quickly (its also why I hate listening to music using earbuds). I do register what I type and can recognise errors but I believe that I type too quickly to engage in the reflective and creative processes that take place when I write old school.

Do I redraft? If so, how many times?

As above, it depends. Typically, if it gets typed directly onto the blog, its usually a case of proof reading and some minor editing but I don’t end up with second or third drafts.

If I’m handwriting a post (or even teaching materials) it depends how clear my ideas are and how good an idea I have to start with. I can write some pieces that just need typed and tiedied up – others it can be 3, 4 or more redrafts.

I find when I need to redraft multiple times its usually the beginning that requires to be rewritten – starting over and over but once I have a clear idea of the message I want to get across, the rest of the work comes together much easier.

What I find interesting is that I can’t predict what will flow well and where the challenges will be. Maybe its also linked to being a perfectionist – that I want to get things right, but at times I think I’ve a clear idea in my head, I write out my plan but its just not working on paper. I’m just glad I’m comfortable scrunching up paper, throwing it in the bin and starting over. I don’t see it as failure, and I know from working with many students over the years that some people find it hard to let go, but its the only way to move forward and produce the work you’re destined to create.

@Tanya – thanks for the prompt. Its always interesting to see and learn how others approach the writing process.

Like Tanya, I’d like to hear about others’ experiences. What’s your writing procedure. How has your style developed over time?

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  1. Paper old school preparation sets the scene of synergy. Sitting with, as you said, coffee, great lighting if possible, gentle music across the room through speakers (fully agree about ‘definitely no ear buds’). My typing is awfully slow and cumbersome. So the written word is vital. Great insights as per usual. Good that you took up the blog challenge. Shows a fine respect for other’s ideas. All the best.

  2. Very interesting! I typically type on my phone – either directly into WP or via notes first – albeit, sometimes on my laptop. Very occasionally, I’ll write a post out on paper first. But it’s interesting, because the posts I hand-write typically take far less tweaking. I’d never even realized it before reading this, but it’s true!

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad I was able to provide some insight into your own practice. 😀

  3. Brenda, I draft and redraft on my laptop. I think it’s a matter of convenience for me and being able to write directly in WP, save it, think about what I’ve written and then come back later to play with and adjust is by far my preferred method. If I drafted on paper I would also be adding to the deforestation of our planet and climate change! I redraft numerous times, often to completely rework or simply to move a sentence or maybe a paragraph. I tend to write as the thoughts come and so often I have to juggle ideas for flow and common sense. I also like being able to add extras- pictures/quotes and then preview what the entire post will look like once published. Long ago I probably would have put pen to paper but returning to finish a degree in my 40’s while working full time and being a mom gave me a taste of how much easier editing is when writing up research. It just seems very natural at this point to use a device.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Deb. I’m glad you have found a system that works for you. I understand about deforestation and climate change but I do try to use sustainable sources when possible. I wish I found working on a computer more effective. I know it would be quicker but I fear quality would suffer.

  4. I agree that my posts are better when I draft them the day before and then review/revise before I post. But I’m impressed that you do it longhand. What a lovely practice. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I write everything longhand, Brenda, apart from blog posts. All my writing for poetry, short story, novel, starts off as thoughts and drafts in my journal. I have a separate notebook for blogging which are ideas and research notes, which are typed onto my computer. I have no idea why I work this way. It’s not a time issue as I can spend as much time on a blog post as I do on other areas of writing. Like you, I do love the feel of a pen and hand on paper.

    • I have a notebook I use for writing my blog posts in, and another to keep notes of ideas etc. As I’m trying some creative writing now, I have a book for that too … but I’d have books for everything. I even have a shelf on my bookcase filled with my notebooks lol

  6. I always type my posts and never, never publish the first draft. Why? Because somebody famous (I can’t remember who) said that first drafts were always not fit to be seen by anybody else. I always sleep on anything I’ve written and come back to it the next day, edit, and decide whether it’s still good enough to publish.

    Blogging tips posts take me at least 5 days to draft, as do my short story and flash fiction posts. My photography posts tend to take one day, but I always sleep on them too.

    As for my handwriting, it’s terrible. Not even I can understand what much of it says.

    • I think I need to be more like you, Hugh. Taking more time to reflect on my work. I worked for years with lawyers, so im used to reading bad writing. They say doctors are bad; in my experience, lawyers are worse

  7. I write on paper first.
    No first I prepare a map in my mind
    Then paper, then I type it
    What I’ve written on paper is completely different from what I’ll type.
    Because, that’s a rough idea. It has many ideas and it’s not necessary that I’ll use them all.
    However, that give me an opportunity to strategize and move forward.
    Thinking in brain is important as well.
    It helps especially during making images.
    Sorry I’m running behind reading your blogs. 🙇🏻‍♂️

    • No need to apologise. And yes, I think in my brain first too. Sometimes, even if I write a basic plan, if I’ve not given my head enough thinking time, I can’t write. Or I write down basic notes/ideas and put then away to give me ‘thinking time’. You’re right, I definitely need my thinking time

      • I shudder when I see some blogger publish posts to a writing challenge within minutes of it being published, Brenda. Unfortunately, some bloggers seem to be in too much of a rush rather than sitting back and enjoying the writing experience.

      • Sometimes I know exactly what I want to say and do publish quickly, but I agree, we should enjoy the process. Have a good Thursday, Hugh 🙂

      • I generally have a rough idea in brain.
        Then I immediately write it down. Many times when I’m thinking a lot, I get ideas on bed. So I write them down quickly.
        Then I get a map and proceed with it
        However it’s different than what I make in a blog

      • I find the whole process of writing fascinating. Mind you, I sat down to write up instructions to issue to students and found I’d already done them 😁

  8. Nice blog post Brenda. My writing style is very different and I usually use the old school fashion method that is the Pen and Paper, it makes my blogging and writing simple to tackle.

    Also, I sometimes redraft my blogs but barely do so.

  9. I do follow a lot of old school methods. I don’t hand-write first drafts anymore. But I print and edit my first draft manually. Though I hate the screen time, it has become part of life now. But my designs are always pen and paper.

    I am so glad to know you first hand write (for the ones you have decided to). 😀

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