Writing A 1st Draft in 4 Easy Steps…

16 May

Hey Mouthy & Anyone else who ever wants to write something…

 There are so many ways you can approach generating writing, and my main advice is try all of them to optimise your chances of finding the one that works for you… But here is my (Debris’) main process:

1. Freewrite: literally write without caring about it making sense or having punctuation or being sane. I just write non-stop, force through all my ‘I can’t think of anything’ barriers and get stuff down. Sometimes I give myself a topic, sometimes I look at a picture or an object as a stimulus but the main key is not stopping. So if I was writing about my dad I would just write EVERYTHING I know about him. I often find lists are the best place to start this process… 

Bifocal’s, neck-ties, a fractured pelvis… the way he clicks his throat, balances his slipper on his big toe as he watches Casualty on catch up… socks, holes, mustard, sandwich ham… gravy all over his Sunday best every Sunday…Bill and Ben the flower pot men. 99 Flakes. Lemon Ice. Ice-cream van music, ice-cream van change. Sainsbury’s shopping. Pop-tarts. 4-course toast dinners. Marmite. Nail clipping over the bin. Patting down the bin liner. Exacting the washing up. Exacting the drying up. Exacting the curtains before Coronation street and adjusting his pillow so it fills the space between his neck and the wall-paper that has been there long enough to peel and brown beautifully. 

….I keep going and going until I cannot go any further! I have literally not edited this at all, these are now my raw materials for a poem…


2. Read: I read as many poems by other people around this topic as I can. I can. I have collected masses of poetry from workshops, poets and conversations over the years. I analyse the structure of the poem and look at what elements I can take and use in the poem I am trying to develop. More importantly I ask myself over and over again – what am I trying to say? How am I trying to make my audience feel? Where is this being done successfully in these poems? What can I take, what do I leave? Here are some links to poems I might use for a poem about partenhood, fatherhood, parental relationships…

A poem about parenthood I was read by an amazing actor last week. 

A poem about a father child relationship shown to me by Roger Robinson at the Mouthy Arvon Residential 

-A poem about an important Mother-son memory that I read as part of my GCSE English Lit exam

3. Structure: I read over what I have written and decide what structure I want it to take. I might decide I want a clearer narrative, in which case I write more to flesh that out. But ultimately then I will put it into 

Stanza’s (paragraph’s) with the same 

number of lines in each stanza and 

with similar line lengths. The idea

of a stanza is that block of text contains 

one unit of the story; an image or an idea 

or a piece of the action… does that make sense? 


4. After I have done that, I have my first draft! And I can start playing with editing the poem. 

Does this help? Do you think you could try this? If you feel this doesn’t work?


And if that doesn’t work? The two other best ways of generating writing are a. talking to people and b. going to writing workshops like Mouthy and actually doing the exercises. But that works for me because I want to understand people, so it makes sense that being in a room full of them works for me a lot of the time. This is by no means your process, but I think by trying all those that are suggested to you – you should find yours eventually. 

I hope this helps someone! 



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