How do I get started writing?

There is no one right way to get started on a paper, and how you get started on a first draft will impact the revision process. Some writers are okay with having a messy first draft, handwritten notes everywhere, and ideas that aren’t organized yet. Other writers need to sit down and work meticulously on a first draft, even when they plan to do extensive revision later. We divided the approaches of our students into two categories: what we’re calling the “Just Write” approach and the “Revise as I Go” approach. Listen to these students talk about each approach, and then respond to the questions for reflection at the end.

Mike and Melissa: “Just Write!”

Reflecting on the “Just Write” approach:

  1. Does anything Mike or Melissa say resonate with the way you usually approach getting started on a paper?
  2. What might be some of the drawbacks of the “Just Write” approach? Benefits?

Meaghan and Josh: “Revise as You Go!”

Reflecting on the “Revise as You Go” Approach:

  1. How is this approach different from the “Just Write” approach? What do these different approaches to getting started mean for later parts of the process?
  2. What might be the potential drawbacks of the “Revise as You Go” approach? Benefits?

Have a draft ready to revise? Check out these tips for how to evaluate it to figure out what you need to do next.



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