“The first draft of everything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway
If you’re a writer, then I’m sure you’ve felt like your first draft had to be perfect. You wanted to cut down on the time it took to get a great piece, but along the way, you find yourself having to stop to fix this or stop to reword that. This could take forever or worse, you could never get around to finishing your piece. Most writers go through this, until they accept that their first draft is just going to be shit.
I remember getting hung up on making my first draft prefect. I didn’t want anything wrong with it. I guess I figured that I could get the best job done, quicker by getting it done in one shot. Then I remembered, my best work will come after I edit repeatedly.
For me, the first draft is just about getting your idea down. Forgetting about spelling, punctuation or even grammar can may make your first drafts extremely poor. To be honest, most of my first drafts look like a young child wrote it. They were completely rushed, filled with poor grammar and spelling and had very little development. Nonetheless, the idea was there.
I had to explain this concept to another writer at one point and what I told them was, ‘Your writing is like your woman. Your final draft is dressed up, make-up on and looking good. That draft is what everyone will see. Now, your first draft is like when she first wakes in the morning. She has crust in her eyes, dragon breath and smells like she hasn’t showered. I’ll never see her like that, only you will.’
Once you let go of your desire for initial perfection, you won’t risk the chance of losing any thoughts or ideas for your work. If you’re ready to accept a bad first draft, then follow my advice.
My advice on first draft is:
Make a Short Outline
This will help you keep your focus while writing.
Get the Main Idea Down
Forget about fixing spelling. At this stage, you want all of your ideas written. Let that be your only concern. If you have additional ideas, make a short note on the side margin and get back to the main idea.
Don’t Be Concerned with Grammar
Grammar will get in the way of writing down all of your ideas. You should worry about that when your completing your final draft.
Once done with the first draft, take a break and then come back for the next draft.
Hope that helps everyone.
In one word, what is your best advice for first drafts?