Maureen Kauzlarich

Children's Author

Three Tips on Writing the First Draft

The first draft is said to be the hardest, but with things like perfectionism and editing out the window, it could be the easiest and most enjoyable draft a writer can write. Here are a few tips on how to let go and get the first draft done.
Tip #1 
Always remember its mortality
People whose dream is to write a novel often don't have the experience or knowledge that the first draft is exactly what its name says: the first of many drafts. They strive for every word and sentence to be perfect as if the words are immortal beings. Think about it. The written word can be as fleeting as the thousands of thoughts we have in a day. That's why we have erasers on pencils and the backspace button on computers. This same tip goes for those who don't want to put in the work to write the same book again or go through rounds of edits. Remember, the first draft is not meant to be a permanent fixture on your wall, it's meant to be a place setting that's only used for the holiday meal. Anything you write in the first draft can be deleted, rearranged, fixed, edited, burned, and rewritten later. This is the time where you can scribble and make notes all over the page. It's the time where you are the only reader in the room.
Tip #2
Get the story down first
The one thing the first draft is for is to get the story down. That's it. Writing it as fast as the images come to your brain. The only way our brains will reveal the next part of our stories is if we get the images in our heads down on paper. Something physical for the eyes to see. Then it can get analyzed and added to. It is not supposed to go through edits until the story is all there. The first draft is meant to be messy just like the story is messy in our heads. Have you ever watched one of those organization shows? Think of the first draft as your brain's way of organizing that mess of the story in your head. You have to take everything out of the space you're trying to organize (e.g. the brain) and decide where to put it while also throwing some things away. Once everything is in its place, that's when you scrutinize all the little details (like moving that red blouse next to the red shirt in your closet so it can match).
Tip #3
Let go of perfectionist tendencies
Nothing in life is perfect especially done the first time around. Only those who have practiced and worked on something for many years can get close to great the first time, but never truly perfect. This advice is not for those who are simply simmering in the middle of their draft and need a break away from it to let ideas percolate. This advice is for those who can't get the first words down. Once you tell yourself that you can't get anything on the page because of perfectionism only then can you let go and just write. Perfectionism can be downright debilitating in all areas of life, but once the cause of not doing something you want is realized, only then can you start the first draft.

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