Because I do. In the strongest of terms, let me own this belief with my loving arms wrapping around the Shitty First Draft.
Good work doesn’t pop out of the Universe fully formed. I can’t think of an author who sits down to write and creates nirvana on the page.
NOT. A. SINGLE. ONE.
Here’s some perspective gleaned from a google search:
- When surveyed, authors said it takes multiple drafts to make a book readable
Tolkien took 12 years to write Lord of the Rings (best books ever!!!)
Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind for 10 years
JK Rowling took 5 years writing the first Harry Potter and planning 6 more
If you are expecting some kind of magic to drop out of the sky, land on your head, and give you a beautiful piece of writing meant to wow the world, I’ll wait for you to land back in reality.
This leads us back to the S.F.D. Its importance lingers as paramount in learning to love the writing you do. You need to accept the multi-draft concept.
In acceptance comes the freedom to let loose when writing your first draft.
Personally, I fast draft. I take a month or two, write as fast as possible and get the bones of my story down. Edit’s come later. My first draft contains the ideas I will expand on, but now I have a frame for all the emotions, grammar and theme.
Other writers tend to edit as they go. They have a full first draft, but it takes longer. There are still more drafts to come, but they have already built everything.
Some writers are faster than others. Nora Roberts and Stephen King come to mind. Both write daily adhering to the belief writing is like a sport, you need muscles to up your game.
I lean towards daily writing as well. My fast drafts happen in a couple thousand words a day clip. I don’t think, re-read, edit, or go back for a dropped comma. I will even skip a character’s name if I don’t have it yet. I go. It’s the ultimate sprint. GET THE STORY ON PAPER PRONTO!
The S.F.D. isn’t a free pass for sloppy. I would never send my first draft to a reader, contest, or even let my handsome guy see it. No, it’s a skeleton waiting to be dressed. Not for consumption.
If you are a perfectionist, the S.F.D. will circumvent your inability to stop nitpicking adverbs, that, it, and any other pet peeves you may have. You will no longer be intimidated by the blinking cursor. Just sit down, and do it already!
I don’t care if you write your first draft on pencil and paper, typewriter, journal form, or in 5 languages at a time. I guarantee you, the story you have in your head and heart needs to be told. Don’t worry, just go with the flow.
Nobody bypasses the S.F.D. You will learn to love it like losing your virginity. Your eyes open to a whole new world through feeling, touching and tasting. You know next time will be better. No longer afraid, you start to explore.
But you can’t get there unless you drop your pants.