Don’t Expect Perfection in the First Draft


Your first draft is the roughest piece of coal you’ll ever see. Though you might feel really good about it, the truth is that it is far from where it needs to be for publication. There will be grammar issues, missing words, character mixups, and plot holes. The best writers will make these mistakes. So don’t look for perfection in that first draft. It’s not going to be there.

A friend of mine agonized over every paragraph as she wrote. A month, she focused on that one paragraph and just one more. She eventually gave up halfway through her short story, nearly a year later, because she wanted it so perfect. A great story is not going to get written because she wanted perfection the first time around.

What is so important about one paragraph that couldn’t wait to be fixed later? A whole story forgotten because of one lone paragraph.

Expect your first draft to be nearly horrible. How I wish I had copies of the very first drafts of the best sellers you read! You’d be surprised how far from the original those first drafts are. They get torn apart and reworked so much that they nearly don’t resemble the first attempt.

The first time you decorate a cake, the odds are that it won’t work out perfectly. You are learning new techniques. Mistakes happen. Do you expect perfection the first time you do anything?

Look at your first draft as a rough sketch of what your book will eventually be. It’s an idea. It’s a plan. Smooth it out from there and create a better version. Nip and tuck throughout it. Trim it. Add stuff. Move it around. Reword. A sculptor doesn’t mold once and have the final piece. It needs to be redone over and over. They chisel at the stone to get what they envisioned. That is what an author does.

Too many authors go the other extreme and think their first words are the final words. They think perfection was obtained the first time around. That is so far from the truth. Your first draft is not any where near the stage to submit for editing or have other people look at it. You need to go over it and over it to clean it up. It is not perfect. Don’t think it is.

Writer for ten years, lover of education, and degrees in business, history, and English. Striving to become a Renassiance woman.

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