Writing a rough draft is a late stage in the writing process. Before you get to this stage, be sure
    you've done a lot of preparation: clarified your topic, taken lots of notes, collected as many ideas
    in writing as you can.

PLAN to do a rough draft and revise it. Promise yourself you won't turn in the very first ideas you
    put on paper.

PLAN to finish your rough draft a day or two before your paper is due so you will have time to revise
    it.  Ask your teachers if they will review your draft and give suggestions for improvement.


  1. Gather about you all the MATERIALS you will need. Collect all your notes, books and

  2. partial drafts. Set out your word processor, typewriter, or pens that work and plenty of
    paper. Other valuable items: a dictionary and/or a thesaurus, a style book, a grammar
  3. Set aside a substantial period of TIME -- 2 or 3 hours -- to get started. Take your phone off

  4. the hook and tell your friends you're out of town.
  5. Develop your THESIS. Read over your notes, lay them aside, and write one or two paragraphs

  6. in your own words explaining the main point of your paper, the essential message you've
    learned and are trying to communicate. Keep this before you as you write; revise it as you go
    only if necessary. This may become your introduction or conclusion. Your entire paper should
    be constructed to support and develop this thesis.
  7. Make an OUTLINE. Your outline may be a list of topics, of sentences, or of questions you

  8. intend to answer in your paper. Put in a group similar ideas; consider in what order you want
    to present these ideas to your reader. Then arrange all your notes in order according to this outline.
  9. Pause and relax for a moment. VISUALIZE YOUR READER in your mind's eye: your teacher,

  10. a fellow classmate, one person to whom you are addressing your ideas. Imagine his or her sex,
    age, culture and life style, vocabulary, knowledge of your topic. Imagine that he or she is
    friendly toward your ideas but does not want to be bored. As you write, speak to this person.
  11. TELL YOUR STORY QUICKLY. Don't feel you have to start with your introduction. Pick up

  12. the first one or two note cards, read them, then begin telling your reader about these ideas.
    Speak naturally and honestly in your own words through your computer or typewriter or pen. Write quickly, using whatever words come easily to you. Don't worry about grammar or
    spelling or finding a "best" word. Don't try to impress. Don't censor your thoughts. Just
    be yourself on paper. If you get stuck, stop and take a break. Consider talking your ideas
    into a tape recorder if that is easier for you, and then transcribing them. You might ask a
    friend to listen to your ideas and write them down as you talk.
  13. Work for short periods of time. Finish a paragraph or section, then TAKE A BREAK and

  14. relax for a few minutes. Give yourself credit for what you're accomplishing.
  15. INCLUDE ALL YOUR IDEAS and information in this first draft. If some of it is irrelevant,

  16. you can remove it later. You can also change the organization later, or add new ideas if they
    occur to you.
  17. DOUBLE OR TRIPLE SPACE, whether typing or handwriting, so you'll have room to make

  18. changes later.
    Once you complete your rough draft, lay it aside for as long as you can afford so that you can come
    back to it objectively as if you were reading someone else's paper.

PLAN to re-read your paper several times, each time looking for something different.

    As you work, be sure to take regular breaks so you will keep your mind fresh and alert.

First reading: organization

    Underline or highlight the TOPIC SENTENCE in each paragraph. (If you discover you don't
    have one, write it!)

Second reading: paragraphs and sentences

    Take one paragraph at a time and read it out loud. Then ask yourself:

Third reading: content

    Have a friend, your teacher, a T.A., or your librarian read your paper and give you feedback.
    Then ask yourself:

Back To Learning Strategies| Studying Tips Page | Kevin's Education Page | Handout Page

 To Top