What’s a Pre-Rough Draft?

Written by Writing Assistant Morgan Brown 

Starting a paper can be a daunting task. Regardless of your major, writing skill, or interest in the paper topic, sometimes starting that introduction feels impossible. Everyone has experienced the moment of looking at a prompt and completely blanking, of staring at a computer screen for hours waiting for ideas to pop onto the page. Sometimes no ideas come to mind. Sometimes the problem lies in writing when ideas rush in but words don’t come easy. Here are four beneficial tips for when those moments arise:

Just start writing!

It’s easier said than done, but it’s guaranteed to at least build an idea for your paper. Set a timer for a certain amount of time (try 15 or 20 minutes) and write without stopping until your timer dings. It doesn’t matter if what you write is grammatically correct, well-written, or even coherent. During this time, you’re free to write total nonsense. This step is just to get your ideas down on paper and let your thoughts flow freely. Once you have at least something written down, it’s easier to plan an outline, and it gives you the motivation you’ll need to plow through the rest of the paper.

Don’t start with the introduction!

The introduction and conclusion are easily the most difficult parts of a paper. Not only do you have to summarize your paper effectively, but you have to make it sound interesting and applicable. It may seem as if writing a thesis statement is the logical first step of a paper, as it structures the rest of the body paragraphs. But sometimes as you write, you realize that your ideas go in a different direction. If you start on your body paragraphs first, the point of your paper will become infinitely clearer, allowing you to go back and write a more fitting thesis and compelling introduction later.

Create an outline!

I’m of the opinion that outlines are essential for papers because you can make them your own. If you’re super organized, like me, write everything that will be included in your paper. From your thesis to the structure of body paragraphs, from quotations to analysis, make your outline as specific as possible. Then, when you go to write your paper, you know exactly what you’re trying to say, and your evidence is already laid out. Even if you’re not super organized, make an outline with one general sentence or two for each main point of your paper. This will help with structure and flow when you get down to writing.

Come to the Klooster Center!

If you’re completely stuck on your paper, we can help! Bring your paper to the writing center. Whether your paper is finished, you only have one or two body paragraphs, or your paper is completely blank, come by the center anyway! A writing assistant can help you to make an outline or help you structure your thoughts. We can’t write your paper for you, but we’d be more than happy to help you start!

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