First drafts

I was part of a writing group discussion a few weeks ago, and something remarkably simple was shared by somebody in the group that really hit home.

The words shared have lingered with me since, and continue to serve as a reminder for me as I write a tricky book draft that, one day, may end up being published. Perhaps they'll help you, too.

The statement made was something like the following:

“Your first draft is for you. The second/third/further drafts (as required) is for the reader.”

In other words, when you're writing or tapping away at the keyboard keys, that's for you and you alone. It's only when you've written everything out and get around to re-drafting or making revisions that you need to think about the person at the other end.

Now there's no “right” or “wrong” way to write. Undoubtedly, there'll be moments where we're writing our first draft and thinking about someone reading what we're writing. That's only natural. And, indeed, not everyone might wish to adopt this philosophy when it comes to their writing.

Heck, there's probably someone reading this who thinks it's utter nonsense. And that's okay. But for the rest of us, this statement is essentially saying that:

“You don't have to worry or even think about anyone reading what you're writing down. Just let yourself writing freely, messily, without any judgement or fear or concern”.

Whether it's a manuscript, a poem, or a song. Even a blog post. (If you feel resistance to publishing to your blog, try taking the pressure off by letting yourself edit after you've written the words down). There's something quite freeing about that.

You're not thinking about what you're supposed to write or how you're supposed to write it. Or the fact that this other acclaimed author you read had this sort of scene, or that sort of dialogue, or writing style, or whatever it might be.

Your story is yours.

Let yourself write it how it wants to be written, let it come out of you how it needs to come out. It's challenging enough as it is without worrying about what others will think.

Just let yourself write.

You might be writing some kind of narrative that is close to home, or re-visiting old ground that is tricky, and the last thing you need is to worry about what others will make of it.

Afterwards, you can re-draft or edit for the reader... or simply – and this is always a choice available to you – not publish at all. *gasp*

Either way, let the words you first write down be for you and you alone.

Your first draft is for you. Isn't that a comforting thought?



PS. As of January 2024, The Indie Writer is now 👥 INF Club. Join us there!