|Photo credit: readerwalker on Flickr|
If you've been a writer for any amount of time, you probably know that the first draft is not exactly perfection—in fact, it's usually on the way other end of the spectrum somewhere between embarrassing and I’m-going-to-hide-this-away-forever.
If you're a writer, you know that writing the first draft can feel painful. The words that appear on the page don't match up with the images in your head. The epic story you dreamt up, when written, falls flat. Your witty, flawed, fantastic characters border on stereotype and you're slightly terrified no amount of writing will fix it.
You start to question whether you're cut out for this writing thing, after all.
Good news, is no one expects perfection from the first draft—far from it. You see, I read something not too long ago that really stuck with me (sadly, I can't find the link despite my futile efforts to dig it up) and it's something I think is important for every writer to remember.
The first draft isn't meant to be perfect, friends, because the first draft is much more for the writer than it is for the reader.
Allow me to explain.
Regardless of whether you're a pantser or a plotter or somewhere in between, the first draft is the place where the writer learns the story. It's where you get to know your characters, where you discover the world you're creating, where the plot starts to really form in front of you. While writing the first draft, you really get to know the story and everything it encompasses and chances are by the end of the draft, you know a lot more about your story than you did when you first began writing it.
So naturally, the first draft is going to be a little scatter-brained. There will be plot holes and the characters will be far from perfect and the writing, well...it's usually not your best.
But that's ok.
The point isn't to write a perfect first draft—the point is to learn about your story. The point is to get to know your characters and to work out the plot so that you can go back and really flesh it out. The first draft is the skeleton—the basic idea of what the final draft is going to be.
The meat of your story will be developed through revisions.
And that's not to say that you should expect your second draft to be perfect, or even your fourth or final draft, for that matter, but with every revision you make, with every passage you re-write, you'll get closer to that completed story—the one you originally envisioned when you set out upon the enormous task of writing a novel.
And that terrible first draft experience will be entirely worth it, after all.
Have you ever been discouraged by a first draft? What helped you get through it?