Here in Houston, we are gearing up for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which starts out with the trail riders coming to town and snarling freeway traffic, then the big parade downtown, then the barbecue cook-off, then a couple weeks of rodeo contests, top name bands for entertainment, and carnival rides and food on a stick at the midway. Better polish those cowboy boots, partner, because you’re going to need them for the Texas Two-Step.
The writing process is also a two-step dance, of sorts. The first step is to do a brain dump and just get all the information down on the paper or typed onto the screen and saved in a file. During this phase, don’t go back to correct spelling, change the wording, rephrase an idea, explain a concept, or do anything that will slow down the transfer of ideas from your head to the page. Some writing gurus call this “writing down the bones.”
The second step is revision, which is way more than using the spell checker and grammar checker (which I do recommend you use). Revising is more than proofreading, which will catch errors spell checker missed (field vs. filed). It involves reorganizing, removing redundancies, spelling out acronyms, defining technical terms, using tables and figures and bullet points instead of heavy text, and tightening the writing style. You should spend at least the same amount of time revising your work as you did writing it down in the brain dump step. Don’t just look for errors, but eliminate wasted words, improve the clarity of your thoughts, and make your transitions nice and smooth.