A man and a lady stand with their back against the other. The man looks tensed whereas the lady is calm and smiling.
Illustration by A. Agastya

Writing and publishing fast is a dream every writer has

. It is never easy to go through your first draft and then the subsequent revision.

Then how can we accomplish it? Don’t worry, all you need to know is the story of Smith and Samantha, both are first time writers wanting to publish their first article.

Smith believes that a writer must possess the ability to come up with beautiful prose effortlessly and he is determined to be one such writer.

Samantha believes in little planning, putting words to the page, and then seeing what she has come up with.

Smith writes a sentence, it does not exuberate great writing skills; so he deletes it. He writes another better sentence, deletes it yet again. After thirty minutes of hard work, he has managed a paragraph, an exceptional—level Hemingway—paragraph. Now it is time for the second para, but Smith has lost his trail of thoughts. All his ideas are garbled, he spent so much time on the first para that he never thought about what would proceed. Slowly and steadily he gathers his thoughts and manages another para. A lot of time has passed by now, he is tired of all the hard work. He takes a break, a real break, he’s way too tired.

Samantha cares less about editing on the go, for now, she is going to write, only write. She gets the first sentence down, a billion spelling mistakes in just one sentence, grammar holds no meaning to her for now. Uncaringly she proceeds to the next sentence and more. Para after para in an hour and a half she has her first draft of the article ready. It’s crappy, really crappy. She knows it but, let it sit. She has fun for the rest of the day.

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.

-Terry Pratchett

Smith, after 15 days of drudging through his first draft, realizes there is no structure to his draft. His article sounds more like a collection of paragraphs, rather than a goal-driven article in itself. There is no rhythm or flow to the passages, he has to move a lot of it around. after another 15 days and completes the second draft. Writing has proven a difficult task for him. The article just is not there yet, he needs to revise it further, but his energies are low. He has lost all hope, of becoming a writer. He decides writing is not for him, he quits.

Samantha, on the other hand, had gone through a second draft that very night before going to sleep, it was terrible but a little work on it improved the quality a notch. Within a week she had made 4 more revision to her draft. The article’s structure is solid, her prose work, grammar is good. With a few changes, it is ready. She publishes her first article, even before Smith quit.

Write down everything that happens in the story, and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.

-Neil Gaiman

Samantha won this one. She knew she was telling the story to herself on the first draft, so she quickly jotted it down. With the story now down, she went through second and more drafts making the article look good and improving the overall quality of the article. Smith basically was playing a game with his resistance. All along he was a talented writer, but resistance made it difficult for him at every step. At last, he lost.

So, in four simple steps:

  1. Quickly put your ideas to the page.
  2. Structure of the article properly.
  3. Edit words and prose afterward.
  4. Re-revise a number of times, you will catch something new each time.

Don’t spend to much time on your first draft, edit afterward.

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