My first few years of writing, I couldn’t move onto the next paragraph till I had perfected the paragraph I was working on. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it took away such valuable time that at the end of the day, instead of having a 500 word write-up, I would be left with a 50 word perfectly sounding paragraph which would lead no where.
It took me some time to understand the significance of the “vomit draft” or in its less nausea inducing terminology, the “first draft.” Simply put, a first draft is the story / post / poem in its rawest form. It’s only objective is to exist. Because only when the story exists can you improve and polish it.
Assuming that your vomit draft is done, here are some of things I have learnt in my 12 years of “hobby” writing and 3 years of “professional” writing that may assist you in further polishing, dotting and crossing:
- Let the draft breathe and marinate: This is crucial. Even during a daily blogging challenge where we are rushing to complete our post so it is published within the stipulated 24 hours, this is crucial. Step away – even if it is for 5 minutes.
- First read through: Does your post say what you had intended it to? If you’re lucky enough to have your vision translate onto the screen, move on. If not, rewrite areas you think could use tweaking.
- Language: The best tip I came across for this step is to read your post out loud. It will not only tell you if the content is flowing well, but also point out areas that are clunky and could use shorter / longer sentences. An interesting way to think of language is that it has its own melody. And how do you listen to it? By reading out loud.
- Grammar: A major roadblock for most of us. Bad grammar can jar your reader and take him out of the reading experience than further into it. There are paid tools like Grammarly that work beautifully. There is also a free tool you can try out. Writing on a Word doc can help with this as well.
- Second read through: Now that the draft has been polished, you have to read through it one more time before hitting that publish button. I usually do the second read through on the phone app. Why? A change of perspective (desktop to phone or vice versa) can highlight pain points in a way a simple read through will not. Often I have caught mistakes while reading on my phone that were invisible on my desktop because my eyes were fatigued and thus could not tell the difference.
The above process can take about 30 to 45 minutes, more if you have the leisure of time. But since your readers deserve only the best that you can write, you can spend an extra half an hour on your post, no?