When you begin a writing project, write for fun. If writing is not fun, then why write? What I think makes writing the most fun is discovering what I truly know about a subject. The process of writing reveals the depth of my knowledge. I am often pleasantly surprised at what I find.
The secret to writing a good discovery draft is found in the name of the draft itself. Allow the writing to let you discover what you really have to say about a topic. You won’t really know what you know until you begin to write it down.
Start by brainstorming ideas. Pick an idea an write about it. Don’t stop an edit along the way. Editing belongs to future drafts. Right now, all you want to do is get words on the page.
Five Tips to Writing a Discovery Draft
1) Write a fast as you can.
Don’t take the time to think to hard about how to say something. As you write, you will discover how to say what you want to say. In fact, you’ll discover thoughts that you didn’t even know that you knew you could express.
2) Skip around.
Don’t force your thinking to go in any one direction. Allow your thoughts to develop on their own. If you get a new idea, start writing about that idea, even in the middle of an earlier one. You will be able to organize the writing in the next draft.
3) Follow your thoughts.
There is a distinct separation between the thoughts in your head and the words on the page. Getting from one to the other is a bit of a mystery. This is where the magic of writing takes place. Allow your thoughts to express themselves freely on their own. Follow the trail where it leads you. Do not put expectations on your writing at this stage. If you give yourself this freedom, you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
4) Listen to where the writing is taking you.
Be very aware of the journey you are on as you write. Allow the writing to have a conversation with you. Ask questions of your writing. Bring suggestions to your writing to see how these ideas might be incorporated in the current project. Let the writing itself determine if these ideas have a place in this project, or if they are better left for another one.
5) Don’t edit as you write.
There is a time for everything under heaven. No is not the time to edit. Editing as you write will slow you down and distract your thinking. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes. You might even want to try closing your eyes as you write. This will allow you to focus on your thoughts and not be distracted by the words written on the screen, or on the page
Make a List
Here’s a suggestion. Start your writing session by brainstorming on the topic of your choice. It can be an aspect of a current project, the beginning of a new project, or a free write. Write down every idea that comes to your mind as you think about the topic. Allow yourself the freedom to explore seemingly unrelated thoughts. Don’t restrict this process.
Try this Tip.
Write your list in paragraph format. This gives you a feel for how your ideas connect. It also reinforces that you are preparing to write – not to go pick up some groceries.
Read over your list when you are done. Ask yourself some thoughtful questions. You are looking for answers that inspire you to write.
What surprises me?
What doesn’t seem to fit on the list?
What makes me think about this topic in a different way?
Where do I see a conflict?
Begin writing in response to one of these answers. This material will be fresh for you. Writing about it will energize you. You’ll start writing with a new perspective. You now have something to say.
I’ve included an example of this activity on the Lessons page on the site. Read through it and then try it on your own. Let me know how this helped you get started in a new direction or get unstuck in your current project.
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