Discourse Drafting is a way of reframing the writing process in your mind as a conversation — specifically a discourse. This immediately eliminates the overwhelming decision-making aspect of writing your first draft.
Discourse is a cooperative, one-way conversation. The goal to deliver information from the speaker/writer to the listeners/readers.
— David W. Angel, The Four Types of Conversations
Given the aim of writing is to convey information to an audience, the most relevant example of a discourse is a professor explaining a subject to a student. You will be acting as both the professor and the student — don’t worry, it’s simpler than it sounds.
So what is the actual process?
Before we start, the most important thing to remember is this — keep your thinking to a minimum. At every step, your first thought is the right one, so just keep moving. The words are all in your head, you need to let them out. Speed is the name of the game.
With that said, let’s do this.
Step 1: Ask a question
On your blank page, type (or write, if you’re going old school) the first question a layperson would ask a knowledgeable person — you — about your topic of choice. Generally, this will be a “what” question, e.g. “What is name-of-subject?”
Step 2: Answer the question
Immediately answer the question as you would in a conversation — keep it simple and to the point, tell the person what they wanted to know and nothing more. You know your subject, so you know the answer. Don’t think, just write.
Step 3: Validate your answer
Read your question and answer together to ensure the latter fulfils the former. You now have an introductory paragraph, that was way too easy. Don’t get hung up on your answers being free of typos or grammatical errors, just keep moving, quickly!
Step 4: Ask another question
Ask yourself what your imaginary student’s next question would logically be and jot that down. Think of this like word-association: the very first question that pops into your head after reading your previous answer is the right one to address next.
Step 5: Answer that question
You’re probably starting to notice a very subtle pattern here. Just as you did the previous one, answer this question. Don’t overthink it or go off on tangents. In real life, if you stood for five minutes staring into space pondering the perfect wording, you’d quickly lose your audience. Now go back to step 3.
If you continue to rapidly follow the pattern of “ask, answer, ask, answer” eventually you’ll reach a stage where no more questions immediately come to mind. When you hit this point you can stop and relax, your draft is complete — seriously, that’s it.