Congratulations, your first draft sucks.

Yes, congratulations! Because you have a first draft.

It’s called a rough draft for a reason. And it’s allowed to suck. It’s the bones. It’s the half-chewed meat. It’s the burnt fat that has a lot of flavour but isn’t good for you to eat.

When I look back to finishing my rough draft, I just want to apologize to my first editor.

She kindly sent me a list of all the words I was banned from using: beautiful being number one. It was a yoga manuscript. I thought everything was beautiful.

The vocabulary was limited. The passive voice was screaming off the page. Metaphors fought with one another. Mental diarrhea stunk up the place.

And it was the happiest day of my life.

Because I committed to my writing practice and showed up each day to get my story on the page. Once there, you can massage it, sculpt it, caress and finesse it.

The difference in the quality of my manuscript between then and now is like night and day. Craft can be improved. It improves through classes and courses, through editing sessions and manuscript critiques, and most importantly through practice.

Sometimes it improves through downtime. Inviting distance between you and your creative work, taking time to refresh and renew yourself, often offers a new perspective: wiser eyes.

What’s important is that you don’t concern yourself with the outcome. Offer your inner critic a chair, a nice blankie and a nap. Then write it. All of it. Don’t censor yourself. Don’t worry about what others will think. Write.

Maybe it’s a page a day.

Or a paragraph at the bus stop.

A chapter on a rainy Sunday morning.

A sentence in the waiting room.

Let the words find each other on the page. Before you know it, your first draft is complete. Like a newborn baby, it won’t have to pretty or perfect. You will adore it.

And be amazed by what you brought into the world.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s