If you’re a new writer, there’s something you need to know. Your first draft will almost certainly be worse than any other drafts you create.
That first draft
Experience usually brings improvement at something, whether it’s riding a bike, painting, cooking, learning a sport, and so on. That experience means learning what it takes to perform well, and it takes practice to gain sharpened skills.
The same is true of writing. It would be unlikely that the first draft of your book would be “perfect”. After all, it’s the first time you’ve gotten all your thoughts in print. But that draft is anything but polished.
When you read through that first draft, should you feel satisfied and jump to the publishing step, or should you throw your hands up and quit? The answer is neither.
Just consider that what you’ve created is the first of several drafts, each one better than the previous one. It’s just a beginning.
And as you go through that draft, you’ll probably find unnecessary diversions, missing or extraneous information, something that probably could be phrased better, etc. Does it need to be re-worked? Yes, because it’s only a first draft. And you need the patience and drive to make that draft more readable.
If you’re truly motivated, and you need to be, you’ll realize that now that the creative step is done, the editing step has just begun. Take a break. Then go through that draft. Get out the saw and sandpaper and polish that draft, and then the next one.
Figure out the areas that need to be re-written, moved, even eliminated. Create better flow between paragraphs, sections, and chapters. And of course, check spelling and punctuation. Each time you set aside a draft and re-visit it after a break, you’ll see areas that need improvement. Of course, there reaches a point of diminishing returns. That’s the time to stop being a perfectionist.
By learning to polish each draft, you’ll create a manuscript worth reading. An you’ll develop the insights and skills that will make writing the next book more effective, and maybe even more fun.
A first book is like a baby’s first steps—they can’t and shouldn’t be compared to a world-class runner. In the same way, the first draft shouldn’t be compared to a second, a third, etc. If you save each draft, you’ll be amazed at the difference in quality from one to the next. And if you write more than one book, each one will likely be a much better work than the first one. And that’s worth working toward.
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