Lines to Love: Writers Talk Their First Drafts


Whatever profession you may be in, it is important to look to those who have made a success of that profession when it comes to looking for advice.

I love to collect the wisdom of writers. I have an entire board on Pinterest devoted to what writers have to say about their craft. The topics vary from how to start to how to finish and everything in between. These gems of advice and wisdom have been there to sustain me through the ups and downs of writing my first novel and starting my second, to say nothing of all the other writing that I do on a daily basis. These guys are my comrades, my brothers in arms. Today I’m sharing some of the words of writerly wisdom imparted and applied concerning that frightening entity: THE FIRST DRAFT.

After all Maggie Stiefvater said:


So, let’s begin at the beginning.

If there’s anyone who knows about those frightful things that go bump in the night, it’s the New York Times bestselling author of horror and suspense, Stephen King. For certain, the man knows about what’s scary and what’s not. Here’s what he had to say about the first draft:


For a man who has written nearly a hundred books, that’s a very telling line. So, step number one: just start, even if you’re afraid. Then once you’ve gotten the gumption to put pen to paper, remember this:

Once you’ve started the herculean task of completing your first draft, sometimes you need to remind yourself of a few truths. These truths will help keep you going even when every word you write seems like it’s fighting to be put on the page.

Here’s another why of saying that, just in fewer words (which is the constant striving of any author):


The greatest thing about first drafts is that they are not permanent. They can be messy. They can be unorganized. They can have plot holes or too many characters or extraneous, meandering dialogue. They can even have entire scenes that really have nothing to do with the progression of the story. I like how these writers phrase it:

Here are a few wise words concerning your completed first draft. Let’s start with the athletic, no nonsense approach we all admire from Ernest Hemingway.

Now, you might not like to hear that. I know that I didn’t when I first heard it. Honestly, I thought my first draft was pretty great. (Hindsight had proven that Hemingway was actually 100% accurate.) However Pat Pattison provides a great take on the writing shit front:


And while you’re composting to make that great fertilizer, here’s some wisdom as to why your first draft is so important- regardless of how good or bad it is.


And then, finally, one day you finish. It wasn’t easy, but you did it.

You’ve won the race. You’ve put one word after another and you’ve amassed a pile of papers that you’re giddily calling your first draft. What now? You do as Andre Dubus III says:

Celebrate your success. Truly. I mean, you’ve done something many people never do. After all:


So, before you go and start to edit your first efforts, take this last piece of advice with you:

I hope these authors have helped to encourage you on your writing journey. I know that even that hard words to hear were important for me.

Is there any advice you’ve heard from authors that has stuck with you?