Why First Drafts Are Fun

We can already hear the screaming. Writers everywhere, who are pulling their hair out trying to finish the first drafts of their books, will take one look at the title of this blog, shake their bald heads and shriek out, “Are they crazy? Writing a first draft is like being in labor for a year without the benefit of painkillers!”

It can seem that way sometimes, especially when you can’t think of anything to write and even banging your head on the table doesn’t help. However, we try to look at our first drafts with a no-holds-barred approach. In short, anything goes.

First drafts are about creation. Nothing will get in the way more than worrying about punctuation, spelling, and grammar. And nothing stifles creativity faster than limits. Limits on how you think your plot is going to unfold. Limits on what you think your characters are going to do. Even limits on who you think might one day read the story.

Now, don’t misunderstand. All the above-mentioned things are important. Eventually. But not during the creative process. We find the words flow mostly freely when we don’t worry about a rigid outline or the fact that a scene seems to be going in a direction we hadn’t anticipated. We just go with it. If a fantastic idea pops into our heads, we write about it. Nine time out of ten, the unexpected scene will fit in somewhere in the story. After all, we know our characters, who they are, how they think. If what we are writing about isn’t in the original scope of the plot, so what? This is how ideas are born.

When we begin a story, we know where we want our characters to end up. During a first draft, we explore how they might get there. And, yes, that exploration is fun because it takes us in new directions, along paths we hadn’t planned on. Kind of like life.

First drafts are a dream landscape where anything is possible. It’s exciting to stretch our imaginations and write without boundaries for the pure fun of writing. Every writer knows the high of being so into a scene that you can’t type fast enough. There is nothing like it.

When our inner critics rear their negative heads, we banish them. Why spoil the fun? No criticism, no nay-saying allowed during first drafts.  Those things are for editing, a truly painful process. But that’s another blog.



About jmdattilo

J.M. Dattilo is our pen name. We are the authors of the Time's Edge sci-fi/fantasy series.

Posted on October 9, 2011, in Authors, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. So so true.

  2. I totally agree that first drafts offer the widest variety of choices. The pages are not yet filled withj characters demanding to stay in formation and complicated relationships and twists have not made deep ruts in your psyche or your plot.

    However I firmly believe that winging a first draft is fraught with danger and will always have the dreaded writers block hanging only a foot above her head.

    The plot plan and character outline should be written before commencing the trek into novel land both for comfort and reference. Of course you can change these plans, like a tourist exploring, that indeed is the joy of the fist draft.

    • We don’t actually wing our first drafts. We are aware of and have planned for the plot elements that (at the beginning anyway!) we feel need to occur to reach the climax of the story. However, we have discovered that sticking too rigidly to an outline is stifling for us. We know writers who plot out every detail, stick to it, and produce great books. We also know writers who never use outlines and just follow their characters and see what they do. We primarily fall in-between. Guess it’s all personality! 🙂

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