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First Drafts are Ugly

First drafts are the roughest, ugliest pieces of writing you will write.

Being proud of writing a story or poem fast is okay, and you should be. Get it down on paper while it's still in your imagination. That's the way to do it! But, remember that this first writing is a draft, not a finished product. It's probably not ready for feedback.

*Bullet*First drafts

First drafts are the roughest, ugliest pieces of writing you will write. All writers begin their story at this same starting place. This is how they end up with good second and third drafts. The last draft is polished and shined to a point where it is unrecognizable from the first rough draft. The last draft will be the book with the well designed cover that's sitting on your coffee table. It may be the fifteenth! It takes time, but you will get there!

Some writers expect to produce perfect, publishable first drafts. They are loading a heap of stress upon their shoulders unnecessarily, and their self-confidence will take a huge hit when the feedback comes in. Don’t let it happen to you.

The first draft is the writing of the basic story. Don’t worry about grammar rules or spelling. Get it all down on paper while you can. Then leave it there. Don't post it publicly and don’t touch or read it for a period of time. Write something else or go for a walk. Your muse will thank you.

If you post first writings immediately you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Posted work will be reviewed, and this is not the time for a review.

*Bullet*Second draft.

Is the plot line strong and consistent? Are the characters ready for prime time? Does the action take place before the reaction to it?

After a day or two go back and start crossing out those extra words and sentences you don’t need. You know the spelling, punctuation and grammar rules you threw out the other day? Go back and pick them up now. Edit the work, correct the spelling and join sentence fragments. If you use a Word Perfect program, it has a grammar check under Tools, use it. Don’t change things too quickly just because it suggests something though. It offers suggestions, but it’s up to you to know when it needs changing. Sometimes the suggestions it makes are not suitable at all!

Do all the editing you can before posting it into your portfolio. Now it’s ready for feedback. It’s important to read your feedback. Did more than one reviewer have the same suggestion? Then it would be wise to look at that particular area again.

*Bullet*Third draft.

Using your feedback as a guide, you can now work on your third draft. You will begin to see it’s much better than the first draft. It will be tighter and will begin to shine. Don’t stop yet though. Look it over with a fine tooth comb; cut out all unnecessary words, and polish it some more. When it’s ready, place it on the review forums again. Repeat this as many times as it takes. Think of it as removing a stain from your favorite blouse or shirt. You don't want to throw it away; you are determined to save it.

A quote from author Anne Lamott,

”The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.” Let your ideas flow the first time you sit down to write that article or story! It’s only when you write those terrible first drafts will you be able to produce really, really great stories! Then you can get them published!

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