First Drafts + Editing Tips

Here’s the thing about any creative activity…

We all begin with a sparkling vision of what it should look like, how it should sound or what we want to achieve.

And then

You begin to bring it to life.

Maybe you can’t get the exact shade of blue you see in your head.
Maybe the words come out in fits and starts, stumbling, rambling, inarticulate and…not what you imagined.

That’s okay.

It’s part of the process. Creation is messy. And even the pros write a crappy first draft.

Here are a couple of pages from one of my notebooks.

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Words are circled because they aren’t the right one. Entire sections are scratched out. Possible adjectives and names are crammed into the margins. And usually, I’ve got an abundance of stars and arrows streaming across the page (PS this is why I write with pen + paper first because the computer just doesn’t allow for this mess that needs to happen first).

I want you to know that it’s TOTALLY F*CKING NORMAL for your first draft to be illegible crap that only you can decipher.

In fact, it might only contain 1 or 2 sweet li’l nuggets of prose gold. That’s fine. Take the nuggets and start your second draft. It’ll probably be messy too.

Eventually, though, you’ve clawed your way through your ideas (and the thesaurus) and you get to the place where you think…this is as good as I know how to make it. Then do this. . .
 

1. Read what you’ve written out loud


Bonus points if you kids think you’re crazy. ;)  When you hear it you’ll pick up on awkward phrases.  Where you trip up saying it people will likely trip up reading it.
 

2.  Vary Sentence Length

If all your sentences are the same length your wiring will be boring to read.  It’ll sound monotonous.  So….switch it up.  Long, adjective-packed sentences.  And short punchy ones.
 

3.  Word Choice


Word choice is EVERYTHING.  Especially if you’re writing a short bit of copy like a tagline or a product description - every. word. counts.   It’s not about searching the dictionary for multi-syllabic monsters.  It’s about being unexpected.  And always avoiding cliches.

Remember every word you write is a tiny expression of your brand.