do you draft cards & letters before you write them?
I've taking advantage of a pocket of free time at work today to write some holiday cards. I've never been one for holiday cheer because I'm cynically suspicious of the holiday season corporate marketing strategy. But in the past year, one of my girlfriend's friends has sent me themed cards for Halloween and Christmas (among other holidays) which always make me smile, so consider me a convert.
I'm a bit of a perfectionist and a control freak, so I usually draft cards & letters out on a text editor and go through several rounds of edits before I actually copy them to the card. The longer the writing is, the more likely I am to draft it out beforehand, so I've drafted way more of my letters than I have smaller cards. I don't know if this is common practice, but I do it because I don't like to make mistakes like running out of space on a card or writing something I didn't mean to. This strategy works for me most of the time. It might take longer than the alternative, but in the end I can produce more polished, eloquent cards and letters.
Recently I've been trying to write more off-hand, not planning at all before I write and just writing whatever comes to my mind. While this has resulted in a increase in mistakes and runaway trains of thought, I like to think it comes with a corresponding increase in authenticity. When I let the pen go and transcribe my thoughts, the pieces that result are usually more candid and lighter on clichés.
What do you think? Do you draft cards or letters before you actually write them? And would you rather get a card written ad lib, or would you prefer a more polished one?