Writing Tips
3 min read

The ultimate guide to your first draft

An illustration of an open book with a story spooling out of it.

Setting the stage: Preparation

Understand your story

Start with a clear understanding of your story's core. What's the main idea? Who are the characters? What is the setting? Knowing these fundamentals can guide you through the drafting process.

Plan (or don't)

Some writers love a detailed outline, while others prefer to wing it. Both approaches are valid. If you're an outliner, sketch the major plot points. If you write by the seat of your pants, let your intuition guide you.

Create a writing environment

Find a space where you feel comfortable and free from distractions. Whether it's a quiet room or a bustling café, make sure it's conducive to your creative flow.

On your mark, get set, write!

The blank page

Facing a blank page can be intimidating. Start with something, anything – even if it's a random scene or dialogue. The important thing is to get words on the page.

Write without judgement

The first draft is not the time for perfection. Silence your inner critic and allow yourself to write freely. Spelling errors, awkward sentences, and plot holes can be fixed later.

Embrace the mess

Your first draft will likely be messy, and that's okay! It's a skeleton, a rough map that you'll refine later. Embrace the chaos and keep moving forward.

Staying the course: Maintaining momentum

Set goals

Setting goals can keep you on track, whether it's a daily word count or a dedicated writing time.

Connect with other writers

Joining writing groups or forums can provide encouragement and accountability.

Take breaks

Writing is intense. Remember to rest, recharge, and reflect on your work.

Crossing the finish line: Completing the first draft

Stay committed

The middle of a draft can feel like a desert. Stay committed, keep writing, and you'll reach an oasis soon enough.

Celebrate the milestone

Finishing a first draft is a huge achievement. Take time to celebrate before diving into revisions.

The first draft is just the beginning

Congratulations! You've ventured through the wild terrain of the first draft, and now you stand on the brink of revision, where you'll polish and refine your creation.

Remember, the first draft is about discovery, not perfection. It's a chance to meet your characters, explore their world, and tell their story in all its raw, unfiltered glory. Embrace the process, learn from it, and know that each draft is a step closer to your finished masterpiece.

💡 Read more: 6 approaches to finishing your first draft