The way that I approach a first draft is not quite the same way that other (more experienced and successful) people approach one. The general advice is to hack through it without looking back. Particularly in writing, it is important to not focus on any grammatical errors, any misspelled words or issues with flow. One needs to get all of their ideas onto the page before they can hope to begin the process of refining those ideas.
I do the opposite.
I will consistently go back and change my words and phrasing. At times I will delete entire paragraphs or move them to a completely different spot on the fly, only to change everything back five minutes later. My first draft is a continuous process.
The purpose of this blog is to have a place for first drafts. Everything that I have written so far (and intend to write in the future) on this site is written in one fell swoop, on a wind of excitement about a topic. Sometimes the wind settles quickly, and I do not finish the article at a level I am happy with. Other times the passion stays and I can finish in a matter of minutes. But what you read here is written within a few hours through my first draft process.
I begin with the idea, and I start writing the first thing in my mind. Often times it works as an introduction, other times it creates a section entirely its own or guides me to a separate topic of interest. I re-read every few sentences for phrases that could become leaner or meaner, for words that could give more pop for the reader. This process is fluid and natural for me; it is how I have always written. For school essays I only made more than two drafts if it was required for my grade. Sometimes I handed in what was essentially a “rough” draft. I do not dwell on my words, as I believe that at the time of writing I am forming the best expressions I could in a reasonable amount of time. I have learned the process of rigorous revision from an absolutely amazing instructor, and this is not lost on me. Yet I prefer this natural writing, this stream of consciousness that is only ordered due to the ordering of my mind.
The intention of these posts were originally (with the election articles) to be an outlet in a moment where I had nowhere else to process. As I began to think more about education, I became enamored with sharing many of my favorite things about math. Now that I have contributed three articles to each of these sections, I finally felt that I should make clear what I have realized this site is for. I hope you appreciate some of the ramblings of my mind. While some of these articles may be thought out beforehand (as are the Mathematics essays), others (like this one) are of a less predictable nature. All are written as first drafts.
I encourage you to engage in journalistic first drafts, to think critically about your thought flow and how you can use writing to improve your daily thoughts. Begin ordering your mind and explore your interests beyond the depth they currently lie. Learn to share your piece of the world with someone else, whether it be through story, writing, music or any other medium. Know your experiences and thoughts are worth having and will change, and allow them to. Remember that your life is a first draft, and an only draft, so go with your passions and share them as best you can.