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Effective content starts with a draft

Good content starts as an idea that is drafted onto paper or screen and gets developed through editing and revisions.

I once had a conversation with another business person we’ll call Mel:

Tash: Just get the ideas onto the page. It doesn’t matter about spelling, grammar, proper sentences or even the order. Just get things down to get started – it’s the best cure to writer’s block or procrastination.”

Mel: {laughs} Just don’t tell YOUR clients that’s what you do!

Sometime later, I am still wondering about why Mel said that.

checking draft spellingAdmittedly, not many of my first drafts are that rough (I spell and use grammar instinctively so even drafts read ok) but that’s not the point.

There is nothing wrong with a first (or twentieth if need be!) draft, nor with a first draft being an awful mess. No one else would ever see a rough first draft but it serves a purpose to why not admit to creating rough drafts?

I don’t expect a designer to instantly produce me a perfect web page or eBook layout – I know I’ll see drafts so I can confirm what I do and don’t like to get a finished product that suits my need.

I don’t think any writing client would be upset that I have drafts – it helps them get a better final result. And if they’re paying for the finished wording, they really don’t care how many drafts it takes me!

Do you relate to what Mel said? Would you hide the fact you started with a rough draft in order to produce something professionally?

9 Responses to Effective content starts with a draft

  • Desolie says:

    Hi Tash
    Totally agree that drafts are essential.
    I always spend time planning what I want to say then starting an outline.
    Getting the ideas there without worrying too much about the construction gives me something to work with and refine.
    Drafts are essential.
    Happy writing.

  • UmiNoor says:

    I too don’t understand what Mel is trying to say. “Don’t tell your clients that’s what you do”? What does he mean by that? Does he mean that drafts are not good to have? Or does he mean that clients might think that you’re submitting the drafts to them? If that is the case, then Mel doesn’t understand what a draft is.

    Every writer should first write a draft of what she wants to write. It’s hardly possible to create a perfect product from the word go. I think the fact that you’ve started out with a draft means that you would be polishing the product until it’s perfect. No draft means you’re just submitting a slipshod piece of work.

    • tashword says:

      I understood Mel to mean I should never tell my clients I scribble ideas down as part of doing their project. Personally I don’t see why I wouldn’t tell a client that – as you say, I don’t give the client those rough notes!

      The concept of draft is a bit blurred now because we can revise docuemtns in the same version (ie computers let us make many changes without having to save it as draft 1, 2, 3 and so on) – drafts were more obvious when you started a new piece of paper with each draft.

  • probono says:

    I can’t imagine why a writer would bring up the idea of rough drafts with a client, but I also can’t see the point in hiding it if asked. I shouldn’t think any client would have a problem with a draft being done, then edited and polished, prior to getting the work. Anyone with two brain cells should know that it is almost impossible to set down great work in one shot without having to polish it up at least a bit.

    • tashword says:

      Anyone with two brain cells should know that it is almost impossible to set down great work in one shot

      I like your hoensty there, probono 🙂 And have to agree with the person in question here not always showing a lot of intelligence or business common sense.

      Generally I don’t discuss drafts with clients, other than perhaps to say ‘I’ve done a draft but need to know x before I can continue’ or similar.

  • allswl says:

    I will admit I do not normally do a draft of most things I write unless it require in-depth research. Most clients do not require a draft to be done and some will down right not want me to waste their time with one whereas other do welcome it.

    • tashword says:

      A lot of my work is done straight to the page, edited and published – I don’t do traditional, distinct and numbered drafts in the way I did when using pen and paper – but major projects certainly require drafts. Even smaller projects sometimes get distinct drafts to make it easier for clients/suppliers to know it is an updated version I’m sending them, even if the changes are small.

      I find it hard to believe a client actively wouldn’t want you to use drafts – surely they want you to go back and check for spelling, grammar, flow, etc which is the entire purpose of drafts?

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