First Splash with Gouache: Then Clean Up

Let’s start with a quote from the great William Zinsser:

Writers must therefore constantly ask: what am I trying to say? Surprisingly often they don’t know. Then they must look at what they’ve written and ask: have I said it?

Great advice for nonfiction writers and communicators!

Word-Splashing before Starting Your Draft

As you develop your ideas, it can be helpful to turn off your wit and brainlessly splash words onto paper.

This word-splashing is the literary equivalent of kids trying their luck with gouache: you sprinkle the page with words, unconcerned about where they land and what they mean. And soon you’ll discover what you want to say.

But once you sit down for serious drafting, I recommend being very deliberate with every brushstroke of diction. Otherwise—as I keep learning the hard way—you’ll have a lot of mopping to do later.

Clearing Your Mind Before and After Drafting

For a short piece of writing—like an email—this mopping is not a big deal; you just read through and edit as you go. But if you’re writing an article under a tight deadline, the deal grows with the word count.

Whether you work with an outline or not, it’s crucial to clean up your mind and be clear on what you want to say. Then look back and see if you managed to render your thoughts clearly onto (virtual) paper.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean you’ll get away with only a final speed cleaning. But you might save yourself a great deal of substantial editing.

Need help clarifying your story?

Book a free discovery call below. Or subscribe for the free Change the World Writing course (also below).

DISCLAIMER: This is no more than a recommendation. Find out what works well for you.

Enjoyed this blog?

Have a look at my other posts. And if you need help finishing your story, let’s chat.

First Splash with Gouache: Then Clean Up

Niels Kwakernaak

Nonfiction Editor

Thanks for your interest in my experience and ideas. I write these blogs to help you overcome the hurdles of being a writer.

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