The Drafting Stage of the Writing Process

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In composition, drafting is a stage of the writing process during which a writer organizes information and ideas into sentences and paragraphs.

Writers approach drafting in various ways. "Some writers like to start drafting before they develop a clear plan," notes John Trimbur, "whereas others would not think of drafting without a carefully developed outline" (The Call to Write, 2014). In any case, it's common for writers to produce multiple drafts.


From Old English, "drawing"


  • "Just Put It Down"
    "Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper not eternal bronze: let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. No one will rush out and print it as it stands. Just put it down; then another. Your whole first paragraph or the first page may have to be guillotined in any case after your piece is finished: it is a kind of forebirth."
  • Planning
    - "Though some sort of plan is almost always useful when drafting, resist any temptation at this stage to pin down every detail in its proper place. A huge investment in planning can hamper you during drafting, making it difficult to respond to new ideas and even new directions that may prove fruitful."
  • The Writer's Best Friend
    "The main rule of a writer is never to pity your manuscript. If you see something is no good, throw it away and begin again. A lot of writers have failed because they have too much pity. They have already worked so much, they cannot just throw it away. But I say that the wastepaper basket is the writer's best friend. My wastepaper basket is on a steady diet."
  • Responding to Students' Drafts
    "Instead of finding errors or showing students how to patch up parts of their texts, we need to sabotage our students' conviction that the drafts they have written are complete and coherent. Our comments need to offer students revision tasks of a different order of complexity and sophistication from the ones they themselves identify, by forcing students back into the chaos, back to the point where they are shaping and reshaping their meaning.


  • Jacques Barzun, On Writing, Editing, and Publishing, 2nd ed. University of Chicago Press, 1986
  • Jane E. Aaron, The Compact Reader. Macmillan, 2007
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer, quoted by Donald Murray in Shoptalk: Learning to Write With Writers. Boynton/Cook, 1990
  • Nancy Sommers, "Responding to Student Writing," in Concepts in Composition, ed. by Irene L. Clark. Erlbaum, 2003
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Nordquist, Richard. "The Drafting Stage of the Writing Process." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Nordquist, Richard. (2023, April 5). The Drafting Stage of the Writing Process. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "The Drafting Stage of the Writing Process." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).