Everything You Need to Know About Writing Your First Draft


Have you ever read a book, closed it after the final page and just sat there for awhile thinking, “Why can’t I write something that good?”

Of course you have: we all have. But that book you just finished reading isn’t the original draft the author wrote. It has gone through more revisions and rewrites than you can imagine.

That’s right: every writer’s first draft is a rough draft.

But don’t let that discourage you from writing yours. It is an accomplishment not every aspiring writer can say they’ve achieved.

If you’re not sure what to expect, here are a few things to know about writing the first draft of your first or next short story, book, etc. 

It will be full of surprises

The story or book you plan for in the early stages of brain rush will almost never turn out that way once you actually start writing. Not only do your characters have minds of their own, but your brain somehow subconsciously manages to make creative connections between pieces of your story you never even realized could fit together.

Be prepared to be unprepared. It’s good to have a good idea of where you want to start and where you want to end up, but more likely than not, it will all change before you can call it a semi-finished product. 

Most of the time, you’ll probably hate it

No one looks at their first draft, at any point between starting and finishing, and says, “Hey, this is pretty good!” In all honesty, it’s probably not. The main objective in completing your first draft should be just that—completing your first draft. Making it “pretty good” (or maybe even better than that) comes later.

So if you find yourself “not in love” with your draft—congratulations! You are right on track.

The closer you get to finishing, the less confidence you’ll have

Most of us start off our stories thinking, “Wow! This is going to turn out great!” That’s good. It’s the kind of self-motivation that gets us through one of the toughest writing-related obstacles: actually putting something on paper. The further you go, though, the harder it gets. We’d be lying if we said you’ll feel that “Wow! This is going to turn out great” feeling the whole way through.

No matter how iffy you start feeling about what you’re writing, though, the most important thing is to stick with it. If you let a lack of confidence stop you now, you’ll regret it. You really will. We’re just being honest.

The hard work is worth the struggle

At times, you’ll feel like you have no idea how you got to a certain point in your story, let alone how to get yourself out of it. You’ll have days where you hate every word you write, and your confidence will shake. Just keep going. Just keep writing. Why? Because “I finished a book” sounds, and feels, a whole lot better than “I tried to write a book once!” Even though, to be fair, “I tried to write a book once” still sounds better than “I’ve never tried at all.”

The satisfaction you will feel when your first draft is finished—no matter how awful you know it is, no matter how many plot holes, no matter how much you’ll have to go back and rewrite later—is worth every single word you wrote. YOU FINISHED! YOU ARE THE QUEEN/KING OF LITERARY MADNESS!

But before you get your crown, you have some words to write, don’t you?


Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.