Drafting, Editing and Proofreading Skills
The first question we were asked by the tutor was what is our drafting, editing and proofreading process? I realise that my approach is not a process but more a medley of doing all three in no particular order.
In the break-out groups we talked more about our methods and I realise that others may spend more time thinking before putting pen to paper. As always there is a happy medium and I think sometimes I am too keen to start writing – borne out of some advice I received many years ago to “write rubbish” and invariably, I was told, it is not as bad as you think it might be. This is true, but I think I probably need to think more carefully about the message, the structure and the conclusions before I start drafting. What is the message and how can I best communicate it?
Our tutor talked us through a Model for Professional Writing Process which separates out the functions in the process.
Stage 1 Planning (Organisation and Preparation)
- Produce a plan – mind maps or bullet point schema may help.
- Produce a couple of sentences of what the chapter or paper is about.
- Produce a prose abstract 10% of the final word count total. Use the structure intended for the final piece. This abridged version can be helpful in gaining early feedback and initial comments from our supervisor.
Stage 2 First Draft (Creative and Productive)
- Uninhibited writing – get the words on the page.
- Do not edit – make notes on any editorial thoughts that might come to mind.
- Voice recognition software can help.
- Set a daily goal
- Determine wordcount and content
- It is about quality time rather than quantity
- Set up the environment to help your writing – noise cancelling headphones, music etc
- Set targets
- Determine an end point and shut down.
- Be disciplined.
- Consider writing retreats.
Stage 3 Structural and Content Edit and Rewrite
- This is a macro edit.
- Take on role of Peer Reviewer or Journal Editor.
- What is this about and why is it here?
- Use the screenshot of questions provided in the workshop and adapted from The Craft of Research (Booth, G et al. 2008).
Stage 4 Detailed Edit
- Micro edit and copy edit
- Line edit – how well does the sentence read?
- Flow? Key is varying sentence length to give a rhythm.
- Copy edit = facts and details, grammar, punctuation, spelling, references, formatting, style etc
- Proofread = final read through and check for remaining errors – can be useful to listen to the document
- Consider editing software – check whether University has subscriptions.
The Abstracting Technique
Work through the 6-stage process to produce the abstract (see Handout). Make sure the title reflects the findings.
General Take Home Points
- Book recommendations: The Practice by Seth Godin (2020) and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (2012).
I look forward to developing my drafting, editing and proofreading skills as I work through my PhD. I need to return to these hints and tips when I start writing and can practice with my blog posts.
Creativity for Researchers
I also attended a course – Creativity for Researchers – I was not sure what it involved but thought it would be interesting.
I identified a number of aspects of PhD work where creativity might be deployed – research design and methodology, problem solving, research methods and the structure and presentation of the thesis and other outcomes. It was suggested that the research process is inherently creative.
I noted certain environmental conditions that might encourage creativity including a preference for being outside in the landscape, working early in the day, alone and with my camera. If it is creative writing, I may need to work inside in which case I prefer to be alone and in a completely quiet environment.
Booth, W. C., et al. (2008). The Craft of Research. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Godin, S. (2020). The Practice – Shipping Creative Work. New York, Penguin Business.
OPD course. (2020). Drafting Editing and Proofreading Skills. University of Dundee.
Pressfield, S. (2012). The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Black Irish Entertainment LLC.