|Photo credit: Samyra Serin on Flickr|
Naturally, this is the part where I say every writer is different. We all write at different speeds with different techniques. Some of us prefer to pump out a first draft in a couple of weeks while knowing it’s going to need massive revisions later, while other prefer to write their first drafts more carefully. Everyone works differently and there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it—there is only whatever works best for you.
Personally, I’m a fast-drafter. I finish my first drafts in an average time of one to two months, depending on the WIP. But I also spend a ridiculously long time revising and rewriting, because yes, my first drafts are pretty terrible, but that’s just how I work best. However, I know it doesn’t necessarily work that way for everyone else, and that’s ok.
For example, the endlessly brilliant Tahereh Mafi (author of Shatter Me) says she writes very coherent and careful first drafts despite being a pantser. I don’t know how she does it, but that’s what works for her. Other writers, especially careful plotters, tend to write very lean and detailed first drafts because they have a firm grasp on where they’re going with their story. That’s what works for them.
In the end, there isn’t a rule that says first drafts have to be awful. The key is that writers must be willing to accept that sometimes the first draft will be awful and sometimes they have to rip it apart before they can get to the real story, and if that’s you, it’s ok. You’re not alone, because many writers work this way. It doesn’t matter if the writing in your first draft is horrendous—what matters is that you finish drafting so that you can make it better later.
And if your first draft isn’t horrible? Congratulations! You have less revision work to do than the rest of us. And that’s ok, too.
Discussion time! What is your first draft process like? Do you write quickly then revise heavily later, or are you more careful with your first drafts?