What is a First Draft?

Hello Lovelies, and welcome back. We talked last week about what a Zero Draft is and whether or not you want to write one. This week, I want to talk about a more common concept, that of a first draft. Let’s dive in.

What is a First Draft?

A first draft, also known as a rough draft, is the very first completed version of a piece of writing—a rough sketch of what your finished work will be like. A first draft is generally written after the outline or Zero Draft is finished and is usually done without much editing.

A first draft is a preliminary version of a piece of writing. During the first draft, the author attempts to develop the main characters and flesh out the plot ideas of their work, uncovering their overarching themes in the process.

How do you write a First Draft?

The ways in which authors attempt a first draft of something are as numerous and unique as they are.  To illustrate this, let me provide you with some famous author quotes.

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” – Neil Gaiman

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’amour

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”  – Ray Bradbury

To this I want to add that it’s both impossible and wrong of me to coach you in any one right way to write your novel. Whatever way you get the words down on the page is a valid method. Trust yourself and your process. 

I have a First Draft. Now What?

First of all, congratulations! getting a completed draft down on the page isn’t easy. You should first and foremost celebrate the completion of your draft in any way that feels right. I am highly food motivated, and so I usually plan a meal and a sweet baked treat. Buy the new book from your favorite author in hardcover. Give yourself time to luxuriate in a bath. Go to the berry patch and pick some fresh berries. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive, just take some time to celebrate and reflect on a job well done.

In some cases, it may be necessary to put your draft in a drawer for a time so that you can distance yourself from it and come back to it with fresh eyes. I, however, generally get started on revisions within the same week of finishing a draft. I have a good sense already of where the story is lacking and what I want to tackle in the next draft, so I celebrate and then get right back to work.

Eventually, you will need to pull that draft out and do a full read through, with the intent of eventually rewriting the book. But for now, just feel good that you got to the end.


What is your First Draft process? Do you outline before you start a draft? Let us know in the comments below!

2 Replies to “What is a First Draft?”

  1. I’m a pantser, so I just blitz my way through my first draft. There are tons of revisions to carry out in the end though. Oh well, life of a writer ain’t it? Anyway, thanks for this post! I enjoyed it 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: