Why Your First Draft Shouldn't Be Perfect

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Novel First Draft

Writing a novel can be a daunting and overwhelming task, and it's natural to want to create the perfect manuscript right from the start. But aiming for perfection in the first draft can actually hinder your creative process and slow down your progress.

Let's explore why the first draft of your novel SHOULD NOT be perfect.

1. The first draft is a starting point

The purpose of the first draft is to get your ideas down on paper. It's a rough sketch of your story, characters, and themes. Trying to make it perfect at this stage can limit your creativity and stifle your imagination. It's important to allow yourself the freedom to experiment and explore different directions without the pressure of getting everything right the first time.

2. Writing is a process

Writing is a process, and it takes time and effort to produce a quality manuscript. The first draft is just the beginning of that process. It's where you flesh out your ideas and put them into words. We often only think of the first draft and then the final draft. But what about all the drafts in between? Those are the drafts where you refine and polish your work. Each revision allows you to make your writing stronger and more effective.

3. Perfectionism can lead to procrastination

When you set the bar too high and expect perfection from the start, it's easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged. This can lead to procrastination and make it difficult to make progress. By giving yourself permission to write a messy first draft, you can reduce the pressure and make it easier to get started. Embrace progress over perfection, friend!

4. Mistakes are part of the creative process

Making mistakes is part of the creative process. It's natural to have plot holes, inconsistencies, and weak character development in your first draft. The important thing is to keep moving forward and not get bogged down by these issues. You can (and should!) always go back and fix them in subsequent drafts.

5. Editing is where the magic happens

The editing process is where the magic happens. It's where you take your messy first draft and turn it into a polished, professional manuscript. By embracing the imperfections in your first draft, you open yourself up to the creative possibilities that editing can bring. This is when you go back and fill in those plot holes. Correct your grammar mistakes. Tighten up your dialogue. Amp up the character chemistry or tension. Make sure every chapter starts with a captivating hook and ends leaving the reader wanting more. And the best part? It'll be so much easier at this point, because you're already familiar with the flow of your entire novel. And I'm sure you'll agree it's usually easier to go back and edit something that exists than write it up from scratch.


The key takeaway here is that the first draft of your novel should not be perfect. Instead, it should be a starting point that allows you to explore your ideas freely and without inhibition. Embrace the imperfections in your first draft and trust the process of editing to turn it into a polished, professional manuscript. Remember, writing is a journey and the first draft is just the beginning.

You just have to start.


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