Writing can drive the most focused among us to devise ingenious new ways to procrastinate. Even after you’ve got a solid idea and a rough draft underway, there are still a lot of hurdles to jump to get to a polished final piece. But, if you start with a strong draft, you can streamline your writing and make it easier on yourself and all those involved with the editing process.
To save yourself a few rounds of edits and additional work, here are my go-to checks to ensure more compelling rough drafts:
- If you’re writing a piece that has a specific word count requirement, be sure to come in close to it so that you won’t have to deal with lots of cutting or more additions in a later draft.
- Keep your introduction short and to the point. Long paragraphs and a buried main topic can lose potential readers before you’ve even had an opportunity to say what you want to say.
- Remove the phrases “I think” and “In my opinion” from your work—the entire piece is your opinion, so including these phrases is unnecessary and can make you sound less sure of your stance or topic. Here are some other filler words you can cut to tighten up your writing.
- Keep your target audience in mind to help keep your language and tone on point. Check out this post for more on why audience should be top of mind while writing.
- Limit serial questions, rhetorical questions, parenthetical statements, dashes to set off writing, and ellipses. Used sparingly, these can be powerful writing tools that drive attention and emphasis to particular statements. But if they’re used throughout your draft, they’re not working in your favor and can make your writing seem unfocused.
- Avoid passive voice whenever possible. It makes writing clunky, unclear, and unwieldy.
- Take a second glance through the piece for repetition of particular words or phrases and for excessive exclamation points.
While these tips certainly won’t eliminate the need for editing, they can cut down additional work and make the writing process smoother for you. And, as a bonus, if you’re producing stronger drafts, you could also land yourself stronger placements and a reputation as a go-to contributor.