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Creating the first draft of your research

Many people put off starting their papers; some spend extra hours researching the topic to avoid writing.

Do not fall into this trap; instead, start writing your paper in chunks. For example, if you have finished your research on one part, start writing that part. If you wait until all your ideas are researched and all your thinking is clear, you’ll end up writing a one and only final draft in one sitting and this is not an enjoyable experience! It also leads to a rushed paper.

To get started with writing

  • Talk about your topic—record what you are saying; listen to what you said; write it down.
  • Just write try not to over think your assignment.
  • Do not think of your professor as your target audience; think of a nice student in your class and write with them in mind.
  • Free-write. Write as fast, and as freely as you can.
  • Break down a large writing task into smaller parts. Write it in sections. Think of a long paper as being several smaller papers.
  • Write the easiest sections first. (Write your introduction last).
  • Alternatively, write a very quick, very rough draft of the whole paper without any notes. Then spend later writing sessions expanding, developing, and clarifying sections within that initial draft.

This is a first draft - it will not be perfect

Turn off your internal critic as you write. Your goal initially should be to "write" rather than to "write well".

  • Do not stop to edit as you are writing. Leave a blank space if you cannot think of a word, or a quote, or a piece of information. Try to ignore your spell checking software at first. Check and clarify details LATER.
  • If you draft on paper, leave lots of space so you can easily add things later. Write on every other line and leave wide margins.
  • Do not delete or scratch out what you don't like, just add on any changes you make.  You may see something of value in your first ideas later on as you revise and edit.

Follow your plan or outline (if you made one) as you draft but do not be afraid to deviate from your plan if you suddenly get a new idea.

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