Where is your reader?
When you’re writing essays for assessment, it’s important to remember your reader. But it doesn’t always help to think of them looking over your shoulder, especially when you’re just beginning to draft. It might cramp your style. Instead, picture yourself working in a room and re-position your imagined reader as you progress.
1 The first draft is just for you
This stage of the writing process is personal. You’re negotiating the order of your ideas, ensuring they’ll connect and flow, and establishing your argument. You may also be trying to find your voice. Place the reader at a safe distance—outside the door to your room. You know they’re waiting, but it’s not yet time to invite them in.
2 Editing: let the reader into the room
Now you’re re-drafting your work. Let your reader enter the room but don’t ask them to sit down. Ask, ‘Do you understand how this connects? Is this sentence as clear as it could be?’ You may wish to read some parts of your essay out loud. Other parts won’t be ready yet—feel free to have your reader wait at the back of the room while you rewrite.
3 Proofreading: don’t let the reader out of your sight
At this stage, it’s important to keep your reader in view at all times. Imagine them seated opposite you. Read aloud so you can hear what they will hear. Be constantly aware of how they will experience your writing.
7 October 2021
In the final phase of your PhD, approach late-stage setbacks in practical ways to distract from the doubts.
Connect with your writerly self and try thinking about your writing in the way that professional writers do.
You might be surprised to learn that it could be more efficient to spend less time on drafting and longer on other aspects of your writing.