top of page

how to love your first drafts


I don't know who took this photo and I don't know this dog but I love them both.

First of all, take the pressure off. This is your first coat of paint. This is a gathering of ingredients. It's not the finished portrait. It's not the meal.


This is you showing up and saying, "I have images/thoughts/feelings running amok inside my head and I am going to try to catch them and have them stand in a straight line like unruly children with laughter and dirt and hope spilling from their sleeves."

It's a mess. It's supposed to be so you might as well just have fun with it.


Get it all out. The weird words. The silly words. The words that shouldn't see the light of day. Don't be precious about it, be bold. This is not a time to reign yourself in, it's a time to play. PLAY. Later you can come back to sculpt and refine but for now, you're just riffing.  And if all else fails and nothing comes, just start writing and eventually something somewhere is going to stop you in your tracks and make you say, "Wait a minute. Did I just write that? Ooooh, that's good."


It could take a few days of first drafts before anything happens. You may sweat a lot, or sigh a lot like I do. You may sit and stare at the screen or find that your whole entire house needs to be cleaned rightthisminute. That's ok. It's natural. Many times when it looks like I'm not writing, I actually am.


I'm writing with a broom. I'm writing with a walk. I'm writing with a nap.

But then, eventually, you actually have to form words. Words! I often wonder how all the things I feel and think about have enough alchemy to come through my fingertips and out into the world. It's magical and the best part of the magic for me is the first drafts because they free me. It's an honest shot. It's a date with creativity. Then I come back with my editor's cap on to get down to business but first drafts? Romance.

First Draft Tips:

1. Set a timer for thirty minutes and force yourself to have zero distractions for those thirty minutes. No internet, no phone, no people. Oftentimes when I sit down to write I don't actually feel like writing at first. It feels daunting. But if I give myself a time limit and block everything else out, sentences come. They may not be the most amazing sentences (these are first drafts after all) but it's a solid effort that can lead to great work.

2. I always keep in the back of my mind that first drafts are just the bones, the ingredients and so I don't sweat the small stuff in my drafts. I don't edit anything. I just try to tell the truth. That is enough.

3. When I can't sit down to write because a story or thought is just too much or I feel too confined by my chair, I record my story while walking and then I come back and type it all out. I have had some awesome experiences with first drafts by recording them while walking around in nature. Nature has a way of helping writers.

Quick style tips! What I do when I'm stuck with writing:

1. Take out my favorite pen and just let my hand glide across the page. Doodle. Write my favorite words. Draw a map.

2. Sweat!

3. Have a conversation with a stranger

4. Arrange flowers

5. Read

6. Remind myself that it's a process

7. Order a cappuccino

8. Put on lipstick. Sometimes I dress up to write. Whatever works!

9. Clean

10. Go out into nature and let it remind me of everything

Books to Read

Bird By Bird by Anne Lammot

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Have fun with your first drafts. Romance yourself. Be bold. Leave judgment at the door. 

bottom of page