The First Draft

One of the reasons that I haven’t completed a piece, to date, has been because I do this thing where I try to write my final draft as my first draft. The backspace button has become one of my favorites, along with the key command of Control + A. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I have sat down to write and found myself composing something, only to stop midway and erase all of it in favor of a different approach. 
The importance of the first draft is getting it all down on paper. It isn’t about perfecting dialogue or sentence structure or even spelling and grammar. It is about creating something tangible that you can work on. The second draft is about fleshing out what is written. It is adding the details that the piece needs and providing the necessary structure it requires. The third draft is when you start the editing process, but through a critical lens. It is where you start to look at the piece as a whole and see what fits and doesn’t fit and what makes sense and doesn’t make sense. And then you have your final draft, which is essentially where you polish everything off, checking solely for the grammatical and spelling errors and correcting them.
Since I’ve started writing, I have cheated myself out of the first, second, third, or how many ever drafts that a writer should compose before having the finished product. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m an impatient writer. I want my first draft to be my final draft. 
For years, in both academic and creative writing, I have maintained a one and done policy. I would compose the text in one sitting if possible, quickly read over it for obvious errors, fix them, and then hand the piece in. I have never spent more than maybe 30 minutes editing any one of my pieces, which is an issue. A big issue. Yet it is a habit that I didn’t even know I had, until last night.
Last night, I found the much needed motivation to get started on my book. In the process of writing out what would be the fulfilling content of it, I found myself hitting the backspace button, deleting all the text, and essentially starting over, trying to find the right way to begin. That’s when it dawned on me that I’m not publishing this book tomorrow; therefore there is no rush to get it done right the first time I write it. What is important is that I write. 
I found myself swallowing a difficult pill as I put unnecessary breaks in dialogue and felt like I was hopping around and just putting everything in my head onto paper to be rearranged and edited later. I’m actually cringing as I write this in anticipation of rereading what I had written last night. But last night taught me the importance of drafts.
I have a folder on my desktop that is filled with nothing more than bits and pieces of works that I have started and stopped throughout the years. Most of them are nothing more than two pages long in length, the result of a perfectionist wanting to get it done right the first go around and not have to be subjected to looking at it again. I mean, who wouldn’t love to be the writer that can write a piece in one sitting or only needs to write one draft to have a quality piece ready for publication. The truth is, I’m not that writer. As a result I’ve been doing myself a serious writing injustice. I’ve been scrapping precious work for the sake of perfection, not knowing whether or not if that scrapped material would have been vital to the piece.
Among other things, I began to realize what separates a writer that can crank out novel after novel versus the individual who keeps talking about writing a book. The first draft.
There is even a plethora of information that focuses on taking the individual just talking about writing a book to the writer that can crank out novel after novel at their choosing. Almost all of that advice revolves around the creation of a first draft and writing with careless abandonment the first time you put pen to paper or your fingers to a keyboard. And as much as I spend my days on Pinterest, pinning these assortments of tips and tricks, I have still actively chosen to ignore the importance of the first draft in preference for the final one.
But that stopped last night. At least, I hope it stopped last night. Now, my only goal is to create the first draft.


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