The First Draft Just Needs To Exist

That film you watched and loved. That TV show you're obsessed with. That book you can't put down. At first, they were an idea, notes, then a really rough and possibly awful first draft that the writer considered giving up on. By the time it made it into your brain, it was likely unrecognisable.

I know so many writers who dwell and dwell before they write their first draft, like it is their only shot and it has to resemble the finished product. It is important to do a lot of character development, and outline your story, and in my opinion know your beginning and ending and key beats, but you have to at some point write the draft. 

Six months ago I spoke to my friend and his story was in the same place it is now - his head, and it hasn't developed any further. There comes a point when you have to release the words onto the page. It's scary, and often things change and scenes don't work, but you have to get through the draft. Get the story down, make your notes, and respect the process of redrafting. My first draft always goes through a few passes and I'll edit on the way, but a lot of people I know believe in the vomit draft where they won't look back. Just get from start to finish your way and fix in the redraft. Whether it’s puking it or plodding through, get it done.

If you're waiting until you have a large chunk of time to write the draft, it will likely never happen. Set aside smaller chunks of time. Set targets. I often write early in the morning before work so I don't get the frustration and guilt hanging over me all day.

There are stages to writing - development, draft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, cry, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, cry more, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, drink water to hydrate so you have more tears, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, weep and consider a career change, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, redraft, finish and get a cold from emotional exhaustion crushing your immune system.

Don't fear the first draft. Be comfortable with the fact that it will always be flawed, and accept that it is something to mould, shape and work on. It's your story draft, to make sure it all works, and bits may not, but now you know so you can go back and fix them.

In the Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne crawled through a river of shit to come out clean on the other side. Accept your first draft is a river of shit. Crawl through it then clean up. 

Happy writing.