By Dana P Skopal, PhD
Do you know anyone who can write a clear message, without errors, as their first and only draft? And do we write more drafts now on computer than when people only had paper and ink pens? No matter how we write, we still need to produce a coherent message, and editing can provide a good checking method to ensure the text is grammatically correct.
As we now write several drafts, we usually need to revise (which can mean re-order) our message before we even start to edit it. Before computers, people wrote few drafts, especially as they did not have the benefit of being able to ‘cut and paste’ and move text around. Did they plan their text more than we do now?
In our communication courses, we often see students research their topic but then only write a rather convoluted text. Students appear to describe what they have researched in their Word file, quickly edit it and then think their work is complete. Writing reports and assignments requires planning; if you use the computer for a ‘brain dump’, you need steps to coherently re-order your message before editing your sentences. For many people, drafting and planning are recursive.
If you think about your writing and improve it as you go through the writing process, you may then need fewer drafts. Good writing rarely happens without good planning and careful revisions.