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  • Writer's pictureShawndra Holmberg, CPO-CD

Your First Draft is NOT meant to be perfect

Your published book will look nothing like the first draft. It may not even resemble the initial idea that inspired you to take this journey. The final draft of the book, the one you’ll publish, will come from the PROCESS of writing, editing, and rewriting. It does NOT come from your mind whole or unblemished from the beginning. Work through your ideas. Try out new ones as they come to you. Toss aside others that don’t fit.

I know, I know. You have an outline for your book. Maybe that outline is in black and white or maybe it’s just in your head, but you have it in mind when you start on this path to a published book. However, as you write, more ideas will come, old ideas will connect in new ways, and other ideas will be put aside for the next book or blog. Your book will emerge from the process of writing your first draft… and then rewriting.

Your first draft is NOT meant to be perfect.

This is the key concept they never taught me in high school English, or grade school when they taught me to outline, or college when they expected me to know all about writing. They never came out and said, “the first draft is not meant to be perfect.” Maybe I should have grasped that concept from the beginning, but I didn’t. I always felt like a failure when my first draft needed more than just a quick polish.

It wasn’t until I saw my husband tossing aside entire sections of his book that I understood the first draft was just a place to start. I watched him struggle at the computer with a sentence, then heard the repetitive tapping of the delete key. Followed by a few choice words as he deleted the whole paragraph. Trailed by a thunder of clicking keys as he figured out the next scene. It finally hit home that “writers” struggle to make their message clear, engaging, and polished. What made them writers wasn’t the ease with which their words showed up on the page, but the fact that they kept writing.

I discovered that a writer writes an imperfect draft in order to have something to polish. After all, you can’t edit what you haven’t written.

So, write!

Develop that first draft. Become a better writer with each chapter. Practice your craft with each paragraph and sentence. And yes, throw down your metaphorical pen in frustration a time or two (or even three). Pick it up again the next day. Skip over the sections that aren’t working yet by inserting a placeholder phrase. Keep writing!

I watched a writer in action throw an idea down, write more, come back to add, change or toss out sentences. Then, on the next draft, he ripped out some amazing words because they didn’t move the message forward. And he kept writing.

I finally learned that a writer writes, rewrites, and keeps writing!

Because the first draft is just that—your first attempt—you can use every block of time you have to get an idea down. Half an hour or even just 15 minutes may be enough time to insert an idea in a section or chapter. You don’t need a whole day of writing to move your book forward. Don’t waste time waiting for the perfect block of time to write. Write when and how you can.

So... when will you write next?


 TL;DR |  Your first draft is NOT meant to be perfect. Keep writing!   You edit, rewrite, and polish AFTER you've completed the first draft!!
TL;DR (To Long; Didn't Read) | Recap

The first draft is you telling yourself the story. ~ Terry Pratchett


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