This approach seems to have worked well for my Academic Legal Writing Circle seminar students last year, so I thought I'd pass it along so other students who are writing articles or seminar papers could consider it.
One way to get a first draft done is to begin with what I call a "zeroth draft" -- something halfway between an outline and a first draft. Here's one way of doing it:
1. Start by writing a fairly complete Introduction, if you can. The Introduction can help you get a better grasp of what you're trying to say.
2. Lay out in your document the structure that you anticipate for the rough draft, including the section and subsection headings.
3. For each subsection, start by writing a sentence or two summarizing the argument in the section. For instance, if you're writing about the First Amendment and workplace harassment law, one section might read:
A. Fighting Words
Workplace harassment law can't be justified using the "fighting words" exception because it isn't limited to speech that isn't face-to-face, and isn't likely to immediately start a fight.
4. Then, when you've filled in all the subsections that you can (or if you're blocked on what to write in some subsections), go back over the one-sentence summaries and expanded them to a paragraph or two, for instance:
A. Fighting Words
Workplace harassment law can't be justified using the "fighting words" exception because it isn't limited to speech that isn't face-to-face, and isn't likely to immediately start a fight. The premise of the exception isn't that all offensive speech or all insults are punishable because they offend -- it's that they (i) lack value, (ii) can be restricted without interfering with valuable speech, since one can still convey the same views in other ways, and (iii) are likely to cause an immediate fight. Nothing in harassment law limits itself to this narrow category; it can just as well cover [give examples of non-one-to-one-speech].
Discuss Cohen v. California as example of this limitation.
5. Repeat this expansion as much as you can, for instance expanding each paragraph into a couple of paragraphs, each couple of paragraphs into a full subsection, and so on.
6. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, footnotes, and the like. Feel free to use bulleted and numbered lists. Use whatever shortcuts will help you express your substantive points in as much detail as you can provide.
7. Do worry a little about statements that seem too abstract or conclusory -- see if you can, in the next pass, make them more concrete or provide more support for them. But worry only a little: The difference between a zeroth draft and a first draft is you should expect some of the zeroth draft to lack concreteness or close argument.