First Drafts: Tips for Writing Them and What to Expect

When it comes to writing a first draft, the first and only real tip that you need to know is…


Don’t worry about the word count, how long it will take to write, if anyone will want to read it, how it’s going to end, or what you’re going to say. Just write the damn thing.

Once you’ve followed that tip, here’s what you can expect from your first draft.

That It Will Suck

It just will—make peace with it.

That It Will Make You Cringe

You will cringe at EVERYTHING you read back.

That It Will Need To Be Left To Breathe

Write it, work on something else, come back to it. Then cringe.

That You Can Use It As Your Outline

Some outline before hand, I don’t. I write the first draft with a vague idea of what the story is, then see where that cringe-worthy first draft takes me. From there I outline. I look at the story and characters of the first draft, write down the main points, refine the plots and characters, and then get to work on the second draft.

That It Will Be Something You Will Never Show Anyone

The first draft is for you, not for anyone else to read. When re-writing, there will be parts of your first draft that will be cut, chopped up and changed. There will be sections of your book that only you will ever see. Enjoy having that special connection with your work.

That It Can Show You How Far You’ve Come

Your future self will look back on it—and after they have cringed—will marvel at how far you’ve come as a writer and how much you’ve improved. The difference between the first draft and the final draft will show your progress.

That It Will Not Break You

The first draft will be the easiest. It may not feel like it when you’re writing it, but it will not be this draft that breaks you as writer. It will be the other drafts, when you’ve read the story so many times that you hate it. With the first draft, the story is fresh, new and full of possibility.

That It Is Something To Be Enjoyed

You’re discovering the story and coming across the plot twists for the first time. After the first draft, you will never not know your story’s surprises again. Enjoy the thrill of discovering everything.

– K.M. Allan

2 thoughts on “First Drafts: Tips for Writing Them and What to Expect

  1. This is such a refreshing post, glad to hear that the cringe factor is an issue for other people too! Some really truthful and really optimistic points here! As someone battling through that first draft I got a lot of sense out of this 🙂

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