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Do you wish you could write? Or you'd like to get back into writing? You've landed in the right place! I'm Kim Duke, your writing coach based in Canada. I help women start writing for the sheer joy of it!

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Why your first draft sucks.

Filed in: Get Inspired

This stops me from falling in love with my first drafts!

Let me know if this has ever happened to you.

You have a writing idea simmering in your mind.  Perhaps you overheard something interesting at the grocery store. (Yes – all writers eavesdrop! I’m shameless.)  Or maybe you had an unexpected and thoughtful conversation with a stranger and you just can’t stop thinking about it.  

You start writing in your mind.  And everything is PERFECT.  The words and sentences flow and you can’t believe the metaphors that have landed from the heavens onto your head. You dash home and grab a pad of paper (or your Scribbly) and your favorite pen.  You sit in your coziest chair. You have a cup of tea, close by.  You even have a cookie on a china plate. You can feel how easily this essay/story/memoir is going to come together. Life is amazingggggggg! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.

And with an excited heart you start to write and then strangely, THIS HAPPENS…

You write something brilliant.

You can see its brilliance shimmering beneath the surface of the sentences.

The story pours out of you and this feeling…this feeling is what you’ve always wanted. You are a writer! You can write! You’re not a wanna-be writer. You are the real deal.

With a grateful heart, you finish writing your story/essay/chapter, and the warm blanket of contentment settles on your shoulders.

Your work is done.

Anddddd now I have to burst your bubble.

I’m thrilled you have an inspiring idea and I’m ecstatic that you gave yourself permission to write and get the words out of your head. It takes guts to write!

But you’re not even close to being done.

Hemingway nailed it when he said:

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

Ernest Hemingway

Listen. He’s not trying to hurt your feelings. But Hemingway is saying you need to do the work. The material that flows from our pens/laptops into our first drafts is raw material, at best. Is there some good stuff hiding? Maybe. First drafts are usually sitting on the surface of the water. They may be a duck. Or they might be a decoy duck. You need to get closer to see the difference.

Let your writing sit for a couple of days.

I know you’re excited about launching that beautiful piece of writing into the world.

But before you do? Let the writing keep simmering by itself.

Eventually, some things start to separate or clump together. Sentences and paragraphs reveal their awkwardness. You’ll read it out loud and see words with their chests puffed out like scrawny roosters.

But don’t despair. And don’t give up.

Dive into your crappy first draft. Work on it. Move sentences and paragraphs around like your living room furniture. Add the rug. Pull a chair. Dig into the words and make sure they are earning their keep.

From the corner of the writing, you’ll see a sentence with potential. It was something you had just slapped down hastily, but it wasn’t what you initially focused on.

Now, a few days later? You can see it holds the roots of your story. You know in your heart that you’re onto something.

Your crappy first draft is about to become a lot less crappy.

But remember this. Most writers do at least three to four major revisions to their work before they send it anywhere. So don’t be crying in your soup about it.

You’re now a card-carrying member of the Hemingway Club Of Crappy First Drafts.

*Did you love this? Then check out Scribbly – my quirky writing program that we snail-mail right to your house. We’re nice like that.

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