The First Draft

The first draft of anything is never anything anyone would want to read. It can be choppy. It can be rambling, repetitive or have other issues. But it’s the first draft. Getting it done is what counts. What you do with it after that is what is important. That’s the spirit of NaNoWriMo.

Writing the first draft is sometimes easy and sometimes it is hard. That applies to all writing, to be honest. The rough draft just gets the words down in one place. That’s its sole function. It’s the assembling of words to make the story. Words are our building blocks and they are what makes our stories work. The rough draft is the bare building. If it is a good one, we will have a good story. Well, after we paint the building, furnish it and decorate it the way we want it. That’s revision.

The rough draft is often not very pretty. Sometimes it is downright ugly. You will find rough patches where the story doesn’t quite work. That’s ok. That’s the process. Ignore the process and your building will fall. Brace it up. Slather on plaster. Do your best to make it as pretty as you can while you are writing it, but remember it is the first draft. Don’t obsess over finding the perfect words for a passage. Slap something down that makes sense – or doesn’t make sense, but lets you know what you want there – then fix it later.

That is what you get when you participate in NaNoWriMo. You get a rough draft. It is something that looks like a story but isn’t quite a tale yet. It is a sequence of ideas. It needs to be formed into something. I know I started with a building metaphor, but now I need something that fits better. A potter starts with a lump of clay. The first draft is the point after that. There’s something there, not quite formless, but nowhere near completion. You need a rough draft before you can make your story shine.

That’s all I’m saying here. A rough draft is just there. It doesn’t sparkle. It doesn’t make anyone feel any emotions, except the writer who sometimes looks at it in despair. That’s fine. Take that despair and use it as a polishing cloth. Smooth the rough parts. Keep the concept of the rough draft in mind while you write it. It’s just the rough draft. If you feel there is something wrong with it, don’t worry about it. Keep going. Finish it. Write as clean a rough draft as you can, but recognize that you will need to clean it more when you finish it. Just write it. Get it out of the way. Say what you want to say and finish the draft. You can fix the problems in revision. Your goal in writing the first draft is to string the ideas together into a story. Once you get that done, you can make it pretty. So sit down. Write your first draft and don’t think of the reader. Not yet, now is the time for writing. So do it.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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