In this section of the Excelsior OWL, you have been learning about traditional structures for expository essays (essays that are thesis-based and offer a point-by-point body), but no matter what type of essay you’re writing, the rough draft is going to be an important part of your writing process. It’s important to remember that your rough draft is a long way from your final draft, and you will engage in revision and editing before you have a draft that is ready to submit.
Sometimes, keeping this in mind can help you as you draft. When you draft, you don’t want to feel like “this has to be perfect.” If you put that much pressure on yourself, it can be really difficult to get your ideas down.
The sample rough draft on the right shows you an example of just how much more work a rough draft can need, even a really solid first draft. Take a look at this example with notes a student wrote on her rough draft. Once you complete your own rough draft, you will want to engage in a revision and editing process that involves feedback, time, and diligence on your part. The steps that follow in this section of the Excelsior OWL will help!
Rough Draft Example
Let's talk about rough drafts. Now I know that sometimes it's hard because you do your outline, you prep your thesis statement, you've done all this thinking that goes into it, and then your teacher probably just says right.
There are some things I tell my students to keep in mind, when they sit down to actually draft. The first is, don't worry about length, at least not too much. Of course, you don't want to write a 20 page rough draft, if your page limit is three pages. So keep that in mind a little bit. But if your page limit is three pages and your rough draft is four, let it go. You can go back to it and you can pair things back later.
The other thing I have remind my students is, remember your outline. You won't believe how many students do their outline, they plan everything out and then they sit down at their computer and say, "I don't know what to write here." And then I have to remind them, "Get out that outline." That is all the thinking that goes into your essay. So writing it shouldn't be the hard work.
If you get stuck, move on and come back later, and this is really important. When it comes to drafting, I definitely advise sitting down more than the night before papers do, because sometimes you will get stuck on your hook for your introduction, or maybe how to analyze a particular quote. And sometimes the best thing to do, is to just skip over it, keep going with something else and then come back to it with some fresh eye. So give yourself sometime.
That brings me to getting a different set of eyes on your papers. So, in the drafting process, and hopefully you'll have multiple draft, it's always good to get multiple different people to look at it. Not just your teacher, not just you, but asking a friend, asking a parent, asking a different teacher who didn't assign it, to look at it. It's going to give you an idea of what it is that you're communicating. Often times we get so in our papers that we think we're being clear. When somebody else reads it and it's not very clear at all. So it's always nice to get that feedback.
My other advise is take breaks and that's another reason why I say give yourself some time in the drafting process. It's amazing what it'll do for you to take maybe a day away from a paper, and then sit down, go back to it and look at it with fresh eyes. And then finally, welcome the feedback from everybody but remember, you're the writer. So, welcome feedback, ask people to look at it, but don't get angry if they say things that you don't agree with. Ultimately, you make the final choices when it comes to your writing. So don't get too frustrated. Really open your ears to what they are saying.
So hopefully all of these things will help you in that drafting process and get you to that final draft a little bit easier.