Have you ever dashed to the keyboard (or grabbed a pen) and words simply flow? Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, don’t you just love your passion pouring out—fast and furious—as words on a page? That’s exactly how you need to write your first draft. Fast. All the way through. Seriously. Hear and believe it, writing a bad first draft is a good thing.
Feeling resistance to the idea of writing a bad first draft?
Resistance is pushing back right now, isn’t it? But, that’s not how I write. But, I get inspiration from reworking my first page 100 times. But, I need to revise to find the depth of my story. But, if I write fast it will turn out to be a big mess. But, but, but…
Okay. Let’s look at it from the other side. You have a BIG IDEA and you write, finding inspiration everywhere. Whoa! Wait. You rework something at the beginning. No, stop. It’s not quite right. Rework again. Stop. You can’t go forward until you get this perfect. Rewrite yet again. Wait, stop. Where do you go from here? Stop. Now what? Wow! You are blessed with another BIG IDEA, and this time, it rocks! You put aside your first BIG IDEA. After all, if it’s a good one, you’ll still be excited about it someday. Right?
Wrong. You are caught in make-it-perfect syndrome, a heinous, soul-sucking, creativity-killing mire. Solution? Write your first draft fast. This is where discovery happens. The surprises, twists and turns, moments of delight, the excitement…in short, the fire. And readers love it when you deliver your heart and soul, your passion on the page.
Remember to write your first draft BAD. I repeat that so often because it’s something every writer knows, yet ignores. Or forgets. Now I have something to add…the first time around, write FAST and BAD. Write with a sense of wild abandon and a sense of freedom allowing you to try things. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
Why is writing a bad first draft good?
Your first draft is to discover your characters and find your story, not perfect your writing. Once you are completely finished the revision process begins. You can use the first stage of revision to develop characters even further, fill holes in your writing, add description, subtext, motivations; whatever you feel your first draft is missing. Rewrite massive amounts, if needed. The final stage of revision is to cut away whatever doesn’t add to the story or move it forward.
De-guilt writing a bad first draft.
Yikes! I can feel your panic. Okay, time for a safety net. Go ahead, begin your writing session by revising what you’ve written the day before. Take a step back and re-immerse yourself in your piece. However, limit the cycle that loops you backwards. Revise only once then forge ahead! Once your first draft is complete, you can fix, change, add and delete. Objective revision becomes difficult if you’ve spent hours, days, or months making pages perfect. You will be less apt to toss or rewrite if you’ve spent huge amounts of time perfecting your prose.
I’m about to begin the process of finding the fire for my next project. And then I’m going to write it, FAST. And BAD. I hope you’ll join me and do the same.