The Rough Draft
Many years ago, more now than I care to admit, I finished my first manuscript. I was sitting at my kitchen table and had just finished a four-hour writing session that culminated with me typing the words The End on a page. I saved my document and felt the rush of excitement that meant the last two years of hard work was completed and my book was done.
I had no idea what I was talking about.
What followed was several months of self-doubt and hard lessons learned that I would like to share with you to hopefully help you avoid these very mistakes.
I thought my finished manuscript was, well, finished. This is a lesson that is of the upmost importance for every writer to learn, yes, every single one of us. That lesson is that your rough draft, or first draft, is just that. It is going to be rough and the first of many drafts. Stephen King once said that your first draft is the worst your writing is ever going to be.
When I finished my first draft, I made the huge mistake of thinking that it was perfect and finished. I was sure publishers and readers alike were going to line up to get their hands on it as it stood.
It really bothered me when people began picking out the mistakes and giving me ideas to make my writing better. It bothered me because I had this illusion that I was done working on that project and could move on to the next one.
Its ok to feel accomplished for having finished the rough draft, and you should. That is a huge feat that not a lot of people get to experience, and you should enjoy that moment. The work, however, is not done.
Take your time going through your work. Add the details you weren’t sure about. Fix the comma splices and other little issues you stumble upon. Make sure the story is as perfect as it can be and that you are happy with it. Once that is done hand it out to a few readers and let them take a look at it. Make sure they are going to give you honest feedback and be prepared to take honest feedback. If you are going to ignore everything, they say than don’t waste your time or theirs.
It does not mean you are a bad writer if your first draft has errors, its supposed. In a first draft your goal is to get the clay onto the potter’s wheel. Put your ideas on paper. You can come back and clean them up, organize them and stack them up nice and neat on the next go around.
Celebrate the victories though, celebrate the finishing of the first draft and even the finishing up of the second. You deserve it.
Keep on writing everyone.