Do not edit your first draft.
This is it. I don’t know who needed to hear it, but honey, this is it.
I have come across a plethora of articles over the past few years in my persistent search for knowledge in order to better my craft. Let me save you the time and energy I have spent in discovering this simple a*s advice that has changed the entire trajectory for me and serves as a major part of my new and improved writing process.
Other suggestions have been too drastic for my liking – such as completing your first draft then shedding a tear and waving goodbye as you erase the entire document and write the book all over. This may work for some, but it ain’t for me.
There is also the method of critiquing every word of every scene as you go. To me, this is wasteful with time and quite pointless. Why attempt to perfect the first draft? It’s nowhere near final, sweetie.
The first draft solely lies down the foundation.
The following drafts build upon its framework and its not unusual at all for the final product of your published book to be much different than that first body of work you spit out.
There is an abundance of quotes focused on this perspective of the first draft and many of them state how it is supposed to be sh*t. It’s not meant to be critiqued and perfected. Its purpose is to serve as the first, major step in the process of writing your book: getting that idea out of your head and onto the paper.
It ain’t meant to be cute! It’s just you sorting this thing out. You’re taking a messy world out of your imagination and putting it on a document. The first step in essentially bringing your story to life. It will go through many revisions as you continue to piece together the world you are creating.
That’s something experience had to teach a perfectionist like me.
When the first draft of AWAY was written, I aimed for every chapter to be as close to perfect as possible before moving on to the next one. With DRIVE, I started out doing the same sh*t, critiquing along the way. Then when I finished the first draft and thought I would just go back to make revisions here and there, I got hit with a HUGE epiphany regarding the story and ended up changing damn near the entire book.
That’s when I realized the importance of taking my time but with a different goal in mind. Not to make things perfect, but to allow the story to breathe and unfold. I wasted all that time editing along the way just to ultimately revise the whole book. Annoying.
The first draft is really you telling yourself a part of the story.
The part that initially came to you and that you want to do something with – you’re getting to know your characters, what they want, and what’s preventing them from getting what they’re wanting. And as you let the story land on the document without stunting its flow, the rest comes to you.
Don’t worry about it looking or even being the best. Get that blank document open and color it. Don’t worry about it making sense, don’t worry if words are missing or names or unknown or details are nonexistent. Just get your story out. Accept the flow. And the rest will come to you.
Then you can go crazy with revisions. And not the good, like, Prince “Go Crazy”. Literally, go crazy. The first draft is the easy part!
Do you edit your first drafts? Do you just let the words fly and worry about the deets later? Let me know!
I missed you guys!