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028T – The First Draft Is Only the Beginning

Two of the things writers seem to need most are accountability and encouragement. That's probably true of almost anyone who is working on something really important to them.

Sometimes when we're at the start of a new project, we get caught up in thinking we want this book to be our best yet, or to win a big award, but those thoughts can make the blinking cursor on the page feel daunting. If we can focus on the fun story in our heads, and not what we hope to accomplish with it, we'll write a better first draft.

Now some people do so much editing as they write that by the time they reach “The End” for the first time, they have a first draft that may be the equivalent to another writer's second or fifth draft. If that's your modus operandi, great!

Many of us, however, do better to get the first draft down first, then come back and fix it. We get frustrated when we're starting something new because we can picture bits of the story in our heads, but we can't find the right words. However, letting your editor-brain get involved in that first draft will actually make things worse.

Remember last week when Robert G Lee was on the show, he talked about M. Night Shyamalan and how many drafts it took to get The Sixth Sense to the brilliant story it became. It wasn't until after the fifth draft that he realized the story would work so much better if the main character was dead. Yup, the idea that made the movie a cultural phenomenon was not part of the first – or even fifth – draft! (Read more about that here.)

Imagine if you relaxed and took more time to come up with better, and even better, and maybe fabulous new ideas to make your story rock! So play with the first draft, but be willing to work on it in second or third or more drafts to see if you can create the magic that makes even you amazed with your book!

If you're looking for more encouragement on how to write even better books, I just heard Lisa Cron speak and she's so inspiring! I bought both of her books, Wired for Story and Story Genius, and I hope to have her on the show later this year.


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