As you begin to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), keep your planning tools handy. It doesn’t matter if you chose to use lists, mind maps, outlines, or whatever, just keep those planning tools handy because they’ll keep you writing.
Many writing teachers encourage students to free write. Why do you think that is? When you let the writing come out without restriction, it tends to flow better. When you’re in the drafting stage of writing, give yourself permission to keep writing without stops, starts, editorial comments, etc., that break up the process of getting your thoughts committed to paper. There’s plenty of time for revising (step three) later.
Writing typically starts with a beginning, flows into a body, and ends with a conclusion or close of some sort.
It makes sense to start at the beginning for most writing. However, an exception to the rule is mystery writing. You may want to start at the end so you know whodunit and write your clues and insert your characters and events appropriately. But for the most part, start drafting at the beginning of your piece.
The body is merely an organization of paragraphs. Remember that a paragraph contains one thought. Rather than worry about how many sentences should be in a paragraph, focus on the thought the paragraph presents. It’s okay to realize that most readers are comfortable with paragraphs that range between 100 and 200 words, but don’t let that be your guideline. If you do, you risk adding words you don’t need or eliminating words that are critical to your point.
After you’ve written the first draft of the body of your work, move on to the close. Endings repeat the main idea of your piece, summarize, pose a question, propose an action, or offer advice. The main thing to remember is to avoid introducing anything new in your ending. And, if possible, end on a positive note.
Next time I’ll talk more about paragraph types and organization.