First Draft Expectations

So now that you know how I start a new writing project, the next logical post is expectations for your first draft. Of course, all first drafts will be different, but these are general guidelines for those of you who are writing or will write your first draft.

Know that the first draft won’t be anywhere near perfect, and that’s okay.

In the words of a wise writer:

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.

Terry Pratchett

Ignore your inner critic. The first draft won’t be perfect. The first draft is not good enough to be published. The first draft is normally an incoherent mess that barely makes any sense. Full of plot holes, inconsistent characters, and half-written scenes full of drama – this story is nowhere near ready to be published.


And that’s the catch.

Pay no attention to suggested word counts.

Yes. I just said that.

Many people worry about the suggested word count for their genre while they’re writing. And the truth is … those word count suggestions are just suggestions. It shouldn’t worry you or cause you to write the first draft with restraint. The first draft won’t be the same as the final project. You’ll rewrite probably five or six times (or more if you’d like). There’s plenty of time to cut words later; for now, just let your words flow.

Keep the first draft a secret.

Okay, it doesn’t have to be a complete secret. You can tell people that you’re writing a story if you’d like.

But the first draft is a jumbled up mess that needs editing and rewriting. I didn’t show anyone my manuscript until I had rewritten twice (or maybe it was three times?). Either way, knowing that no one but yourself will see this draft keeps your inner critic from speaking too loudly.

Most importantly, just write.

You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank one.

Jodi Picoult

If there’s only one thing you take away from this post, it should be the above quote.

How is your first draft going? Are you letting the words flow, or are you paying too much attention to your inner critic? Tell me in the comments!

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