The perfect first draft

I’ve always had a “first draft is the final draft” mindset – I write a draft all the way through, start to finish, making the words as polished as I can as I write them, pausing for days at a time if necessary to search for the oh-so-perfect word so I can move forward. My first draft is always good, because I edit as I go. It works for me.

Then my beloved, perfect draft went to an editor.

It’s not that my draft got torn apart, and limped back to me broken and bloody. No. My wonderful editor agreed that it was good…she just pointed out where it could be so much better.

I’ve learned to really appreciate the editing process. To find the value in looking at my words with new eyes after months away. To take joy in fleshing out the scenes that I got stuck on and glossed over. To find fun in going back and making good better​.

Now, as I work on the first draft of my second book, I’m working really hard to make this an actual first draft. I’m bulling through, skipping ahead, letting an imperfect word remain, leaving myself notes to “Please, in the name of all things holy, come back to this scene later.” I’m getting the words on the page, even if they’re not the best words, because the thing is – I’m going to come back to them later. I’m going to spend months combing over every word five times, and that’s before it even goes to my editor. I’m going to spend so much time later making my first draft into a final draft that I can let go, and let my first draft stand all coarse and crooked and tarnished.

Because in a few months, I’ll be wrestling that dull and jagged thing to the ground, and polishing it until it shines.

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