There are many routes to getting a finished first draft. What’s important to understand is that your first draft is almost never your final draft.
First drafts can take many forms, including bare outlines, detailed outlines, all the way to an almost complete-looking book—and all points between. There may be too many words or too few. And they may not clearly express your thoughts.
There may be too much narrative, explanation, or description—or too little. And the pace or presentation of material may be too slow or too fast, either losing the reader or not allowing the reader to stay with your thought stream. And so on—you get the idea.
But all of this is okay, because it’s only a first draft—the first time all your ideas are down in one whole document, of whatever form. It’s not designed to be a final draft or a perfect draft. This, after all, is a starting point. It’s not ready for an audience yet.
It’s usually considered ineffective to edit during the writing phase, but not is the time to put on your editor hat. Be merciless—get the words right, change the order of text, add missing material, and remove text that doesn’t enhance your message or move your plot along.
Bottom line: It’s definitely okay if your first draft is messy. Just remember that your goal is to keep it from remaining that way. It’s now time to polish, polish, polish.
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