writing tips

Monday Minute: Facing the First Draft

I decided that March would be my month of revision for my WIP (work-in-progress) and I thought that sharing my experiences would help me make sense of it all. As much as I like writing though, I really struggle with revision. Revision’s even harder when you don’t like your first draft. At all. 

It all started when I decided to open my document and finally go over my manuscript as a reader (after watching NaNoWriMo’s Spreecast video on how to revise your NaNo novel. Very helpful video if anyone’s interested!)

As soon as I read the first sentence, I cringed inside. Wow. There’s a lot of awkward wording here. Yeah…This is terrible. 

These were some of the thoughts going through my head. I could barely get through the first chapter: there was way too much exposition, very little action going on and cliches about people everywhere. Dejected, I was ready to close it and start all over again.

But then I searched up ‘hating your first draft’ on Google and found a great blog post on why writing a first draft sucks. It’s hard work and even though it was more about writing a first draft rather than revising one, it reminded me that how I felt was completely normal.

After reading the blog post, I came to the realization that this was more about how I felt about my first draft rather than the first draft itself. Despite my disappointment, I knew deep down that there were pieces I could use or tweak for a second draft and that I really wouldn’t have to start all over again.

I started thinking more logically about my story, looking at it from a detached point-of-view rather than an emotional, personal one. I thought about it technically: what was it about the piece that wasn’t working? Ruminating over this for a little while, I came up with a list of weak spots that I saw in my story and returned to it, ready to make notes as I read through it again.

A revelation had dawned on me as well. I suddenly understood that by looking at what was wrong in my story and making notes about it, I was learning more about writing. I couldn’t just throw in the towel and call it a day. This will only make me better as a writer. You learn from what you do wrong and you know what to do next time, I thought.

March is my revision month. I’ve come to realize that I’m on a big learning curve. And that’s really exciting because it’s in those learning curves that you experience tremendous growth!

Editing is my least favourite part of writing– but I know it’s a necessary part. There’s nothing better than reading a polished piece of writing. I have a long way to go but I think it’s more about what you learn than the end result itself.


How do you motivate yourself to edit and revise first drafts (if you dislike revision)? How do you cope with self-doubt or procrastination during the revision process?

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11 thoughts on “Monday Minute: Facing the First Draft”

  1. I struggled with the first sentence once. They always say the grab your reader right away. I was paralyzed until I changed it to, “it was a dark and stormy night.” I wrote the rest of the book and then changed it.

    1. The first sentence can be so difficult but yet it’s so important because like you said, we have to grab the reader right away. I knew from my first sentence that it wasn’t captivating enough for the reader, so a lot of changes will be needed. 🙂 That’s interesting how that worked with the “it was a dark and stormy night” beginning. There’s a lot of pressure at the beginning but it’s interesting how our writing can change through the different stages, including our first line. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  2. I don’t particularly enjoy revision, but what motivates me is how annoyingly BAD my first draft is. I feel like I owe the characters a lot more than that. But… I am procrastinating a lot by focusing on collecting world building advice/notes and re-outlining. Slowly. I wish I were more on the ball with that.

    1. Interesting. I can see why you feel that way because characters become so much a part of us, I think. That’s all good stuff to look at though 🙂 I procrastinate by looking up writing advice and NaNoWriMo spreecast videos lol or I just go back to other writing projects when I really should be revising/editing. Here’s to beating procrastination! Thanks for sharing your experience with the revision process.

  3. Ugh, editing is awful!!! I just slogged through this on my 2nd book and hated myself, my writing, the world at large. And then after long bouts of procrastination and self-doubt things started coming together and I remembered this is all part of my process. Thanks for sharing your insights as you go, they are great reminders!

    1. I’m glad someone feels the same! 🙂 It’s amazing how emotional the writing process can be, even through revision. You’re welcome and thank you for sharing yours as well!

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