First Drafts are for You

Photo credit: flossyflotsam on Flickr
As it's NaNoWriMo right now, it's no surprise that the topic of first drafts is on many people's minds—after all, I'd imagine November is probably the biggest first drafting month of the year.

So, naturally, it stands to reason that some discussion surrounding first drafts have cropped up, which naturally have got me thinking about—what else?—first drafts, and specifically who first drafts are for.

First drafts are understandably scary—in fact, I often find them more intimidating then revisions because at least with revisions you already have something to work with. When writing first drafts, on the other hand, you're quite literally making something out of nothing. Which can be exhilarating and incredible but also downright terrifying.

What makes it even scarier is the thought that someday, something might come out of that first draft. That publishing professionals might read it, that it may one day be printed and sold and held in your hand as a bound, completed copy. That family members and strangers alike may go to a bookstore and buy it.

It's a lot to think about—sometimes it can be too much to think about, and it's thoughts like these, I think, that frequently lead writers to to feel so unsure about the words they're putting down when first drafting that sometimes they stop. They feel discouraged because they can’t get the right words, because no matter what they write it feels off, because the epic scene in their heads aren’t so sparkly when they get on the page.

Here’s the thing about first drafts: they’re not meant for anyone but you.

Here’s the thing about first drafts: agonizing over every word will make the process a lot more painful than it needs to be.

Here’s the thing about first drafts: sometimes they need to suck a little (or a lot) before you can make them the story you imagined.

Oftentimes, the first drafts are just what you—the writer—needs to get to know the story. To slap words on paper and figure out how the basic premise goes and start to get to know your characters. Oftentimes, first drafts are words that you needed—it’s information you’ll rip apart later on, and tangents that are ridiculous, and it’s the mixed up, convoluted journey that you need to get from beginning to end.

First drafts aren’t meant to be perfect. Hell, first drafts sometimes aren’t even meant to be shared.

But that’s okay, because the first draft in all it’s ugliness, in all those raw-yet-exhilarating moments, in those bits of passion, and excitement, and yeah, cringe-worthy scenes, is for you. It’s what you need to start making the clay for your eventual masterpiece.

And when you’re done, then you can go back. Then you can make it everything you dreamed for that story.

But first you have to write it. And only you can do it.

Twitter-sized bites:
"Here's the thing about first drafts: they're not meant for anyone but you." (Click to tweet)  
Feeling discouraged by the quality of your first draft? @Ava_Jae says it's okay, and this is why. (Click to tweet)

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