Thursday, February 14, 2013

What is the most difficult part of writing?

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Without a doubt, getting started is the most difficult thing about writing. Note-taking and outlining are definitely important to the writing process, but sitting down and writing that all important first draft is where the real heavy lifting comes in. Often times, I find that what keeps me from getting started is the anxiety that I don’t know what I’m going to say or even how I feel about the topic, but then I remind myself that it’s because I’m uncertain about a topic that I want to write about it.

In most Composition and English classes, teachers often focus on what final drafts should look like without taking the time to talk about the process of getting to those final drafts. No one gets it right the first time. No one. Not your fellow students, not your teachers, not even the writers we’ve all had to read in high school and college survey classes. However, if you don’t at least try for a decent first draft, then there can’t be a brilliant final draft.

First drafts may be laborious, but it’s where the most exploration and insight comes from. It’s your chance to take risks, make mistakes, and make discoveries. First drafts give you a more vivid sense of how you’ll need to organize your essay and the scope of your argument (Is my thesis too broad? Not broad enough?) than an outline; a new argument might open up to you or you might find a gap in your argument that requires more you to do more research or think about your topic different. By the end of it, you’ll be more sure of your thesis or you might throw away the old one and have a new, better, stronger thesis!

The reason we write isn’t just to bring insight to our readers, but also to make our own discoveries and answer our own questions. First drafts are where those discoveries and answers begin. So, while getting started is the most difficult part of the writing process for me, it’s also the most rewarding.