3 Great Things about a First Draft

It’s easy to lament about first drafts. The blank page is one of the hardest things for writers. So let’s take a spin on first drafts and think about the great parts of writing your story the first time around. Because there are a lot! You’ve got a world in your head that demands to see the light of day.

1. Inspiration is still there. No matter where that first draft takes you it’s easier to plug into where the idea came from. It’s like an energy source full of power that you can tap into. You can go back to the originating idea or outline and remember why this story needs to be told.

2. It can still go in different directions. Like an infant, you don’t know what it’s going to be when it grows up and that can be liberating. There are no mistakes because there is no end yet. So don’t be hard on yourself, just get those words down.

3. You’re proving to yourself you can (still) do it. If this is your first or fifth book, many writers question whether they can do it (again). Writing a novel is an exercise in patience, foresight, discipline, imagination and so much more. Novelists are sensitive but tough super-humans. 

Q: What’s your favourite part about your first drafts?

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39 thoughts on “3 Great Things about a First Draft

  1. Hi Carly,

    Just wondering if your company will publish a book with a pseudonym and how private my real name would be if I was published under a pseudonym?

    Thank you for your time.

    Sherri Sscroft-Boyd

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  2. Hi Carly,

    Just wondering if your company will publish a book with a pseudonym and how private my real name would be if I was published under a pseudonym?

    Thank you for your time.

    Sherri

    Like

  3. “There are no mistakes because there is no end yet.” It took me so long to get this in my head. I wrote my first draft feeling like there was someone hanging over my shoulder. It wasn’t until I really started editing (all that cutting and chopping!) that I realized I was in full control and could mess up and straighten up as many times as I wanted because it was still a work in progress!

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  4. When I was a child I used to lose myself in daydreams about all the heroes I had read about or watched on tv. Living exciting adventures in my mind…
    Now that IΒ΄ve grown up, my first draft always reminds me that I am still a child, playing around with my ideas, curiously following a new path and see where it leads me, discovering all the big adventures with my chars…
    ItΒ΄s awesome – …for as long as I am able to lock my inner critic away…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I finished my first draft, I was so proud that I had finished a novel. Rewrites are exciting and I have enjoyed every rewrite since. I equate rewrites to refurbishing a good solid house. Every rewrite polishes, adds Character to the story and, we hope it adds the wow factor. As a debut novelist not yet published this is a very humble opinion.

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  6. “Q: What’s your favourite part about your first drafts?”

    I love that when I write a first draft, the story flows out of me. I rarely know where it will end up, so I’m surprised as if I am reading a novel written by another author–even as the words flow from my fingertips onto the keyboard.

    Also, I love the satisfaction of knowing I have something to edit at the end of an exhausting journey into the creative cosmos.

    Great post, Carly! I agree that writers have “a world in your head that demands to see the light of day.” The first draft is that wonderful time to splash about in the mud and get dirty before cleaning up at the end of the play day.

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  7. The best part about the first draft: putting the passion for my story into words, then sentences, then paragraphs, then whole chapters! I get so encouraged, I find it difficult to stop. Case in point: the first draft of my first novel was 140,000 words. The “final” draft is just under 70,000.

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  8. My favorite part about the first draft is that I finally have a story. I do not outline before I write. I have a general idea of what is going to happen, but things change as I write. It is not until the end to the first draft that I know the story.

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  9. There’s a great Costa Rican singer-songwriter, Fidel Gamboa, and I love his quote about first drafts. Pretty much sums up what happens to me: “Writing the first line is intimidating, exciting, and daunting. It’ll get you places you’ve never thought of and, in the end of it all, that first line is going to be worth crap compared to the wonders you’ve written afterwards.”

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  10. My favorite thing about writing a first draft is just getting to know the characters. I try to sit down and map them out beforehand, but I never find out more about them until I actually start to write.

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  11. My favourite part about first drafts is letting go. I just sit and write and let the story come out and think about nothing.
    I love revision, when you really get to know your characters’ most inner feelings, but first drafts are all about freedom and discovery. And it’s just a fantastic feeling.

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  12. Everything! Being able to take a simple sentence, word or idea and watch it blossom is a bolt of excitement and feeling of accomplishment. But I absolutely love being surprised by my characters when they take control and lead me down a different path. It’s delicious.

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  13. My favorite part is when a thought or scene has been floating around in my head all day long, and then I finally sit down and let it all out! I am usually in the zone – tingling – electric – magic!! I end up loving it! My first draft is a bunch of these moments held together by a few sentences.

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  14. Sometimes, I may know where the story will end up before I begin. However watching the words fall from me telling me exactly how it gets there is absolutely exciting! It can be shocking and intriguing and I just love it. Keeps me going and it’s all I want to do!

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  15. Writing a first draft is like a new love affair – in the beginning you can’t go wrong. There’s heat and passion and it all seems so easy and right. Your lover is brilliant and perfect in every way as are those first scenes… what comes later is the cold reality of what needs work…

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  16. I agree with all the comments about the excitement and freedom of a new draft. In practical terms, a new work can be energizing in a truly practical way as well.

    The WIP I’m into now is also distracting me from the MS that (though it’s a great *novel*) is not a good *product* right now. While I let that lie fallow and am not querying on it, the new novel has me absorbed in discovering the characters and loving the research. It’s like a vacation somewhere I haven’t been before, after a long time without getting away.

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  17. My favourite part of the first draft is when you type in the last line and it’s done. The sense of achievement and fulfillment – knowing that you’ve managed to create a book. Like having a baby I guess.
    The second favourite part is when the characters take on lives of their own and take decisions or say things that carry the story into areas that weren’t part of your original map and they create a world that you wish you could be in.

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