We’ve all been there. We finally get through the first draft of our precious project, the one that depleted every ounce of energy and creativity and now that we’ve read it, we want to rip it up and cry.

But does it really have to be this way? Do we need to go through this emotional anguish each and every time?


We can save ourselves the trauma of this nonsensical reaction by admitting to ourselves that we, like any other writer who’s ever put pen to paper of fingers to a keyboard, will always write crappy first drafts. It’s part and parcel of being a writer.

Quality writing is a process, not a single act.

If you don’t like it, and I don’t know too many writers who do, you can at least know in advance that it’s going to happen and therefore be less affected.

It’s like of like a thrill ride…or my second marriage…

My second ride on the matrimonial merry-go-round, lasted 15 years . My ex-wife was a lot like a roller-coaster; she definitely had her ups and downs.

For years I wondered why this had to be. Then the metaphor of the roller coaster was explained to me and the resulting frustration I felt following certain behaviors made perfect sense.

Like a roller-coaster I could prepare for her rapid rush to the bottom and then -all too briefly it seemed- enjoy the ride to the top.


As writers, we can know going in that our first draft is going to be crap. But again, it’s part of writing. J.K. Rowling’s first drafts are probably crap, too. At least by her standards. And that’s an important qualification to make.

As writers, we each have our own standards for first drafts.  

My standards for a first draft will be different from yours and even more different from Ms. Rowling’s. But that’s fine. I’m not comparing myself or my draft to hers or yours. 

Because we writers read a lot, we’re used to reading quality writing. Top quality content stays with us and while that can be positive, it can also have a negative affect on how we perceive and ultimately judge our own first drafts. We automatically compare our crappy first draft to a highly edited piece of quality content. 

In this way, we are unfair to ourselves. It’s the wiser among us that knows this in advance and can simply enjoy the rush of the ride upward without the judgement that so often accompanies the downward journey that follows.


Do you compare your first drafts to expertly edited finished pieces?  Are you doing yourself a disservice by doing so? How could you become comfortable with the cyclical nature of writing and prepare more effectively for diminished quality of your first drafts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in comment below or over on the Facebook page

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *