...its okay if your first draft sucks.
Because here are 5 simple truths you just have to remember.
#1 Your first draft is to just get everything down.
#2 Don't worry about the word or grammar or anything else, because your second, third, and so on draft is for fixing problems.
#3 Your first draft is going to suck compared to the finished product.
#4 Its okay is you delete characters halfway through or completely change the plot...because you can fix that in the next drafts.
#5 You don't have to show your first draft to anyone, so its okay if its horrible.
One of the reasons I'm writing this post, is because this has been brought to my attention quite recently. As I'm four chapters away from finishing Night Lies, I've gone into this state of "writerly perfection" where I feel as if whatever I write has to be perfect.
But as I was talking to some of my writer friends, I was reminded that this is only the first draft and its okay if it sucks. I don't have to write this chapter perfectly because its not suppose to be perfect the first time around. And that there's always the second draft, and the third draft, and so on, so forth to make it better.
Another truth I was reminded of, and one that my friends and I seem to suffer from sometimes is a case of "first draft perfection." Now I'm sure we're not alone in this, as I'm sure there's a lot of other writers out there who want their first drafts to be perfect, but one of my friends pointed it out the other day to me.
See, in our case, we're so accustomed to critiquing things so thoroughly and wanting to make our writing the best, that sometimes we fall into the traps that our writing has to be perfect the first time around to be good. But, as my friend said, we should back to how it was in the beginning, when we wrote just for the fun of it, not caring about impressing anymore or even needing to show it to someone.
And she's right. While it is good to constantly want to make your writing the best it can be and always improve, its also good to take a step back and relax. Your writing doesn't always have to be perfect, in fact, it doesn't even have to be good. You don't have to show your writing to anyone if you don't want to, and especially in the first draft, its okay if it sucks.
Because the first draft is just for brain storming and writing. You don't even have to write the story coherently. One of my friends half way through her novel, completely changed the whole thing and at least, three times, has changed the main character's hair color.
Which is another thing to remember. Whatever you write in the first draft isn't concrete, it doesn't have to be. Sure you're going to keep the awesome parts, but for the most part, a lot of what you write in the first draft is going to change by the time you're done with it fully. And that's fine.
So, when you're writing your first draft, even maybe the second time around (and yes it can happen), don't worry if that scene isn't going right and you can't figure out why. Leave it alone for a while, and then come back to it because in the first draft, your main goal is to write the story however its suppose to be and figure out things about it.
Don't worry if you're way over the word count (Night Lies was originally suppose to be 80,000 words long, but now its up to 137k and counting!), or way below, because when you get to the second draft, that's when you can add or delete stuff.
The second draft is for fixing those blinding errors, like spelling mistakes, and those plot holes. Maybe even rewriting the beginning or half of the novel. And with every draft, it'll get better till one draft, its finished, polished, and complete to its fullest.
The first draft is a little scary, a little frightening, but its also a wonderful experience. And if you find yourself unable to finish it because of that scene or whatever, you're not alone. But just remember to sit back and enjoy yourself because you're on an adventure, learning things you never expected. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be embarrassed, you'll smile to yourself over that one scene, and when you're done, you can celebrate.
Therefore, when you find yourself writing and you're panicking over that scene about getting it right the first time around, take a breath and remember, you can always fix it later. Just concentrate about exploring your novel and don't worry about the little things, because that time will come, but for now relax and enjoy the ride. You'll be glad you did.
Have you ever found yourself panicking about getting it perfect? Or are you there now? If you've gone through it, feel free to share what got you through it or what's bothering you right now!