Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Freedom of the First Draft

Trying to write the perfect first draft is a beginner’s mistake. Why spend hours on a piece of writing you could eventually toss? The trick to writing a successful first draft is to write it fast.

There’s no need to concern yourself about perfection. You can throw in as many adverbs as you want. You don’t have to worry about sentence construction. You don’t even have to worry about spelling. And, because of this, there is no place here for self doubt, guilt, or fear.

Just write.

The faster you write your first draft, the more chance you’ll keep ahead of that niggling voice that says you’re not good enough. You’ll be able to hold onto all the threads of your plot. You’ll be able to plunge into your story with abandon. You’ll have the freedom to explore different possibilities; they don’t all have to work because it doesn’t matter.

Things begin to unravel when we slow down, when we deal with the details at a microscopic level, when we continually question whether or not we are heading in the right direction.

The more you write, the better you will become. So keep writing and don’t give up. Give it everything you have. Give it your passion. Give it your heart. Give it your soul.

And then edit.

Do you agree? Do you have any tricks you use to stop yourself from self-editing during your first draft?


  1. I have to agree! I'm trying my best to stick to this right now. Write write write!

  2. Absolutely! I never thought about it like this before but it's so true. Self-editing doesn't usually stop me as much as time & then it's so hard to re-gain momentum.

  3. very interesting! it makes sense, i just never thought of it that way!

  4. Great advice. I agree in priciple, but in practice I drive myself crazy.

    We have a few posts about drafts in our Friday round-up of best articles for writers, and I hope you don't mind if we add this to complete the set?

    Thanks for sharing this,


  5. 100% agree. I really prefer to just let loose, to even stop caring about punctuation (which the editor in me abhors!), just to keep the plot moving. It's such an exciting feeling to have so much energy to keep it going, and when I stop to worry about polishing, I lose a lot of that energy.

  6. Martina, I laughed out loud when I read your comment. I drive myself crazy as well and I have to keep reminding myself to keep moving forward. Editing is for LATER! hehe.

    I'd be honoured if you used this for your Friday round-up :)

  7. Your blog title is the best!!!! I found you thanks to Meadow and I'm glad because you have a fun blog!! So I must say hi... Hello *waves*... nice to meet you!!

    So I don't have the problem that some do, my first draft is garbage, I don't self edit I just write,write,and write until I am finsihed. I just finished my last novel in 10 days and now comes the hard part for me. Revisions!!

    I hope you stop by for a visit :)

  8. I do some editing during the first draft. Not for perfection, but to keep the story coherent and on track. The very first draft, I probably write about 3/4's through. I work out plot, etc ... during that process. It usually goes quick. The second draft takes longer, but I still don't let perfection bog me down. I start filling out chapter forms & put them in a binder. I use those and glossaries / character sheets to keep myself organized. If I change something at this stage, I will put a post-it and say to 'edit for' where edits for that begin and say to where.

    Final edit. Gads. Been doing that to my first MS right now. And when I'm done I get to do it again to my second MS.

  9. Hi Jen, welcome to my blog.
    I'm impressed you only took 10 days to write a novel.

    M Pax, you sound very organised. It's great. I'm 3/4 through my WIP, I know the ending but I'm still not sure about a small portion just before the ending (the details of getting my characters where I want them). It will come. A vague idea is good enough for me at this stage.

  10. I write without editing, but then the next day I read what I wrote the day before (editing a bit as I go), then write. Each day I'm doing line edits on what is already written. If I see something big that will have to be sorted out, I make notes for later.

    So, yes, I do edit. I can't help it. I am an editor. (Admitting the problem is the first step to recovery, right?)

    Straight From Hel

  11. I do mini-edits as I go, and if I realize I have a major plot hole I have to fix I stop. Other than that the first draft just flies out of my fingers! Love that feeling :)

  12. I sometimes do some minor edits while reading back on the previous day's writing, but I try not to otherwise I get sucked in and start full-on editing.

    Welcome to my blog, Jemi, Meadow, Rosie, Martina. I meant to say welcome earlier but I got distracted by your comments :)


I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.