If you look for the definition of draft in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, this is what you find:
“A version of something (such as a document) that you make before you make the final version”.
Whether you have just started writing or you have been doing it for a long time, it is always a good reminder to never give up on your first draft. However, this is so much more important for new writers. You’re entering this world for the very first time, and perhaps you don’t know a thing about the publishing process, or query letters, or generally what to do. I was a publicist for over three years and I’ve had many new writers come to me and say “Will you please help me? I don’t know what I need to do”.
As a freelance editor, I’ve seen my fair share of first drafts, and I perfectly understand that writing your first draft might be the scariest thing you’ve ever done. And I agree with you, it IS scary. And you know what? Even editing a first draft is scary as well. I edited one a few months ago and after I’ve finished, it was one huge blotch of red notes, comments and annotations. The first thing I said to my client when I emailed it back was “Please don’t be alarmed by all the red you see, as it is a normal occurrence for first drafts”. I always feel the need to explain myself over this because sometimes writers don’t expect that, and they might end up thinking they are terrible and their works suck. Well, let me say that it is never the case. First drafts are raw, rough and unpolished. Think about a diamond when it first gets found in a mine. Is it shining? No, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t turn into something beautiful.
While brainstorming ideas for this post and what direction it should take, something quite peculiar happened. If you’re a fan of the Twilight saga hopefully you’ll agree with me and, even if what I’m about to say may sound cheesy or even a little silly, I believe it suits perfectly what I wanted to accomplish with this post. If you’ve seen the movies too, you’ll certainly be familiar with Jessica’s graduation speech in Eclipse.
“This isn’t the time to make hard and fast decisions, this is the time to make mistakes. […] Change your mind and change it again because nothing’s permanent. So make as many mistakes as you can.”
Somehow this part of her speech was inspirational and it explains why you should never give up on your first draft. When you have your story, write anything that comes to mind. Don’t think, just write. And write. And write. Write until your fingers bleed… Well, maybe not until then, but you get the drift. And be prepared for days—and/or nights—of rewrites and lots of notes. Then polish and polish until all the dirt has been removed and the story has fit into place.
Because once it’s ready, your ugly duckling will turn into a beautiful swan.
Francesca Poggi is a freelance Editor whose main focus is fiction. She’s also a writer and she’s published a number of articles for a UK online student magazine. Her love for books began many years ago and since then she’s been a book publicist with experience in marketing, and an author VA. You can find her here: http://fpeditingservices.wixsite.com/site