It’s Supposed to Suck

Hey there,

Can you guess what today’s post is about?

Yeah. The First Draft.

Today, we’re jumping into how to make this stage of the writing process your bitch.

Here are some tips I’ve realized in my experience of writing first drafts that will hopefully make the experience a bit less painful for you. Even I’m still struggling to keep these in mind, so don’t fret if these take you a while to master.


1. For starters, stop panicking. Turn off that inner critic of yours because your first draft is going to be a pile of crap. Hemingway wasn’t kidding when he said, “All first drafts are shit.” Honestly, I like to think of my first drafts as draft zero. Don’t worry about voice or character development or if your jokes are horrible. It doesn’t matter right now. You’ll figure these things out as you revise. This stage in the writing process is just about getting the bare bones of your story onto the page.


2. Speaking of bare bones, you should have some in mind. Now,
how much yoi-got-nothing-gifu wish to outline is up to you. Different writers have different methods of going about this. For me, I like to know a little bit of the beginning, a little bit of the middle, but the majority of the ending. By knowing bits and pieces of the beginning and middle, I have a guideline to follow if I find myself lost. Knowing the ending though can act as a guiding light when things really get scary. If I have no idea where I’m headed or what I should include, this will get me back on track.


3. Keep going. This one is possibly the most important. Write every day and don’t look back. I’m not kidding. Don’t look back. Like I said, this draft is going to suck. While rereading previous scenes can be fun when they’re good, it can completely crush your spirit when they’re bad. And you know what happens then? Your inner critic comes out and screws you over. Suddenly, you’re rethinking everything and editing aspects of your story that don’t matter right now. Plus, since you’re writing every day you won’t need to revisit anything––you’ll remember what’s happening in your story. Now, you might be thinking, but Katie, I don’t have time to write every day!
I’m bringing out the tough love here to tell you that yes, you do. Even if it’s only for five minutes and you only produce one sentence, you have time. No one has magic bonus hours in the day. Those that want to get their books published make writing a priority. If you want this too, you need to realize how vital this is. Not only will this get you into the habit of writing, but it will force you to finish your draft in a realistic period of time. We all have that unfinished story that’s been collecting dust in our writing folder for five years…don’t let that happen to this draft.


Well, there you have it. I hope you found my tips helpful as you set off to tackle that first draft! In case you want more information/solidarity in this quest, feel free to check out some bonus material down below.

Video by John Green (Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars, and so many other gems)

Article by Cris Freese for Writer’s Digest



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