Don’t Ditch that Draft! (yet)

Ever write something that you or your boss deemed so off the mark that you faced a major (if not complete) rewrite?

Before you consign that draft to a nearby trash can or your computer’s recycle bin, WAIT.

Take a step back.

Ask yourself where you veered off course. Let the draft teach you. (Yes, that’s humbling. But necessary.)

Did you write for the right audience?
(One of my customers recently asked me to write a DVD script geared to “clinicians in early stages of training.” When I submitted the draft, she said the script should have been for a general audience. Big difference.)

Did you convey the message you intended?
(This week I edited a continuing education article that described all the theory behind a process but failed to explain the real-world applications. Big oops.)

Did you lead the target audience through your logic by linking thoughts together?
(This is the #1 deficit that I correct in other people’s writing. When you know your subject matter well, you tend to forget that others aren’t in that same boat—and you assume logic, details or conclusions that the reader may not be able to draw unless you lead them to it through your writing. You may need to add explanations or move details around to enable your readers to “connect the dots” the way you want them to.)

Did you drown your message in details?
(This is often the #2 problem I correct when I edit others’ writing. The message is there, but if the readers have to take too much time to tease it out of details they’re wading through, they’ll miss or misinterpret the message.)

Did you give your readers a roadmap of what’s coming next?
(Make sure that you write descriptive, effective heads and subheads. Most people either don’t write enough subheads, or they use ineffective, vague verbiage.)

So, before you set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard again, ask yourself those questions. Take notes. Mark up your draft or write a game plan for a new draft—whatever works best for you. Hang onto those notes as a learning tool for future projects. THEN—and only then—start on your new draft. You’ll write more efficiently and effectively. And you’ll likely wow your boss with the improvement.

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