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Q&A: How to efficiently blend multiple writing drafts

Q: “I find that I am forever writing different versions of the same thing, leaving me with the problem of collating them, or blending them together. It also wastes time, of course, to duplicate effort like that. Can you share some ideas for a more efficient process?”

A: Andrew P. Johnson, Ph.D., Professor of Holistic Education, Department of Special Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato:

“Words put order to chaos/thought. My process:

  • Start with draft in written form
  • Put garbage on the page. Most people get stuck trying to get it perfect. At this stage you are a potter throwing a blob of clay on the wheel
  • Then start shaping. Take away. Add.

Outlines are flexible ways to get you thinking ahead. However, trust your unconscious mind. Slow the mind. Focus on one sentence at a time. Then one paragraph at a time. Then one section at a time. Let other things leak out onto the page but focus just on the sentence, paragraph, section. The time to take a holistic sense of your article is when you are printing off a hard copy during the editing stage.”