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How To Submit Articles: Learning To Write A First Draft
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A first draft is like this piece of clay...

The most intimidating part of learning how to submit articles is the prospect of writing articles on a regular basis.

Some people are naturally good at that and enjoy it, but probably the vast majority of people are out of their element when writing.

Should that stand in your way? No, absolutely not.

The first step is writing a first draft.

What is a first draft? It’s just a rough sketch of what your final article will be.

If you’ve ever looked at a lump of clay in the hands of a sculptor as he is just getting the basic head shape in place, you have an idea what a rough draft is.

For that sculptor, the clay doesn’t look like anyone’s face in particular yet–you can’t recognize who he is trying to capture. It’s just a basic shape that you’re going for.

It’s important to take the pressure off of yourself and let yourself just make a basic shape first. You don’t need to say “I’m going to write an article today if it kills me!”

No, please don’t. Instead, just make a basic shape and go no further today. Here is how to create a first draft:

1 – Do a writing warm-up.

This will help you get limbered up in your thinking and get your mind and fingers out of any creative quicksand that they may be stuck in. It’s a warm up, going through the basic act of typing words on a page and thinking naturally, rather than in a strained way.

Here are instructions for the writing warm-up exercise.

2 – Savor small ideas.

When you were doing your writing warm up, you probably touched on one very small, possibly insignificant idea that relates to your niche. You may immediately say, “That idea isn’t substantial enough to be fodder for an article,” and you dismiss the idea.

Don’t do that.

Just take whatever feeble idea that you noticed starting to germinate in your mind as you were doing your writing warm-up exercise, and write one paragraph on it.

No pressure to write a full article–just write one paragraph, a few lines to elaborate on your very simple idea.

  • When you’re writing your paragraph, try your best not to edit. Don’t try to phrase things perfectly or make things flow. This is just writing down a very basic paragraph that elaborates on a very simple idea.
  • Write your paragraph and resist the urge to read it over and over. Write it, and move on. You can either quit writing for the day or you can write a few more sentences. The basic rule though is no editing. No polishing. No fussing! :)
  • In your mind, you can even remind yourself that this is not an article–this is just you writing down a paragraph or two on a topic that you’re not even sure is worthy of an article.

3 – Empty your brain.

You can stop writing at any point, but before you do be sure you’ve emptied your brain of any stray ideas on this particular topic that you are writing about. Put every last idea on paper (or on your computer). You don’t have to struggle and strain if you don’t have anything left, but just be sure that there aren’t any more ideas in your head on this simple topic you’re writing about.

Here are some things to remember as you’re doing this:

  • You don’t have to organize any thoughts in this writing effort.
  • You will probably have typos throughout and poor grammar everywhere.That’s okay. This is a very basic first draft.
  • You do not have to come up with a completed article. That is not the goal here–the goal is just jotting down some basic ideas on this simple topic that you’re mulling around in your mind.
  • No one is going to see this first draft but you, so relax.

If the writing that you’ve done in this first draft is really terrible and hardly makes sense, then what of it? That’s okay. You haven’t broken any rules or messed anything up. You were supposed to write with the perfectionist, polishing part of your brain turned off, and you did that. Good job!

This is what a first draft is.

And that is the end of this tutorial. It may seem very odd to end like this–if you feel like there is no closure with this first draft writing exercise, then you are right. That is a very important thing to learn about a first draft–it is unfinished.

Put it away and work on it a little more another day.

Photo credit:

clay self (in progress) by Troy Wandzel

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2 Responses to “How To Submit Articles: Learning To Write A First Draft”

  1. Alex says:

    Hi Steve,

    I always write my Draft on old fashion way, on paper at home :) … but I think (for me) that is good. After when you have Draft, you can make your letter or Article,post until to the end. My way is, that I must first know about what I’ll write …and then I put Keywords on paper and Start. Maybe funny, but for me is very powerful.


  2. Thanx for the strategy in the article Steve and Alex’s post. I am always interested in learning what others are doing. In search of more knowledge I guess.

    I always try and buld around a compelling proposition that I believe will give people an “ah ha” moment. Take a complicated subject that is critical to someone’s life and make it simple. I try and compare the point I am trying to make against something else. Make an impact by gioving the reader a comparison. It gives the subject depth.

    Like Steve says, just get it out of your head and get moving…..Thx Steve and all….glad I dropped in….David

    We all have built up these behavior patterns that make us react without thinking….to change a behavior you need to provide new information and hope the rader make new decision which creates a new behavior…more “ah ha” moments.

    I save the title of the article till I am done and then really rework it over and over with 2 or even 3 versions and test in different audiences.

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