Tips for Completing Your First Draft

Any author will tell you: Writing is a long and arduous process. After you have brainstormed ideas for your subject matter and then completed your detailed outline, it’s time to begin your prose. You know what you planned to talk about, and you want your articulation, punctuation, rhythm, and descriptions to be perfect. But this can be intimidating. You might find yourself writing and rewriting your first chapter or even your first few paragraphs over and over again. You might find yourself stuck.

Our advice is to not get hung up on the details when writing your first draft. Just get it done. You will have plenty of opportunities to tweak and adjust later. When beginning your first draft, keep these three things in mind:

  • It doesn’t have to be perfect
  • There will be missing pieces
  • Focus on getting your ideas out there

It’s not going to be perfect

Your first draft does not have to be perfect. We repeat: Your first draft does not have to be perfect. There will be typos, misspelled words, misuse of grammar and punctuation, and run-on sentences. That’s okay. These are all things that can be fixed later.

If you spend your time trying to make each sentence, section, and chapter perfect, you could find yourself stuck on the same chapter for months. So, just write. Keep moving forward.

You can add missing content later

As you work on the first draft of your manuscript, you may find that you get to a paragraph, section, or whole chapter that you are not feeling particularly inspired to write about. Skip it! You can add it later.

It’s perfectly fine to have missing pieces in your first draft. You can add transitions, introductions, and conclusions as you go back through and polish your content. And if you have entire sections missing, you can add these later too. You can also leave placeholders for case studies, examples, and images. Writing is a recursive process, and many pieces of the puzzle can be added after your first draft is complete.

Get your ideas on paper

The main goal of your first draft is to create something. You can’t perfect something that does not exist, so create it. Get it out there.

Your thoughts may sound jumbled and not turn out how you originally pictured them, but for the first draft, it doesn’t matter. Writing a book is a difficult task. If you take the pressure off of yourself that it should be perfect from the get-go, you will be able to focus on what’s important: finishing your first draft.

Think of your first draft like you think of your outline: It’s just another tool in the process to help guide you. It’s a necessary step, and it will help you get where you want to go. You don’t have to make your first draft the most amazing piece of writing you’ve ever done, but you’ll be amazed to see your ideas on paper. After you complete this, you can do all the tweaking, revising, enhancing, adding, and rewriting you want to do as you enter the editing stage. And with each draft, your writing will get stronger and better.