The first draft is one of the most important tools in a writer’s toolbox. It’s where we note down our stories. It’s the first time we hang words together and it may not be good. In fact, it won’t be good. The first draft never it. Ernest Hemingway put it succinctly when he said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” That true because the first draft has only one job — to exist. We use the first draft to get the ideas down. We use it to get the story written. Write the first draft without thinking about spelling, grammar or even if you are using the perfect word. You aren’t.
The first draft is just a tool. It isn’t the finished product of our fevered brains. It’s just a tool, a placeholder. Something that reminds us of what we wanted to say. When it is all over, it’s just a piece of paper with ink on it, or an electronic file full of pixels. It’s the beginning. It’s the raw material we sculpt into a story. It’s what we use to make the story.
Don’t worry about anything in the first draft except to get the sentences written. Punctuation? Who cares? Worry about that in revision. Is that word spelled right? Who knows? Check it later. Is that the correct word to use? Maybe not, fix it in revision. You may have noticed a theme here. It almost sounds like NaNoWriMo. That’s because the goal of NaNoWriMo is to get a first draft. That’s it. Period. If you worry too much about whether you have all the commas you should have, you will never have a finished piece. The same is true if you worry about how perfect your words are. You need something to start with. That’s your first draft.
When you are writing the first draft of a story, you should only concern yourself with getting the words out. Write it down. Ignore grammar, punctuation, spelling, word choice. None of that matters before you finish the first draft. All you need to do is write that first draft. Take your story from beginning to end, if that’s how you write. Some people start in the middle and write to the end. Then they write the beginning. It doesn’t matter at this point. The first draft doesn’t even have to be readable. It could be full of cliches, awkward sentences or even run on sentences. The idea behind the words is important at this point. You can prettify your language from the first draft.
Get the words down in some kind of order. Then play with it after you finish the first draft. Do that and you will find that you will produce a superior product. That is your ultimate goal. You just need to follow the steps. The first draft is the first stepping stone to that final product. Skip it and you will end up on your backside in a stream, soaking wet. Write the first draft first. Then revise. You’ll be happy with the results.