The Power of First Draft

The Power of First Draft: Don’t Look Back

“Oh my God, my first draft is so terrible. Nobody is going to read this,” she said as she pressed down the delete button on her keyboard.

“Why don’t I find myself writing perfectly like those novels in Dad’s library” she asked me as I walked into the study. “I feel like I have all the ideas in my head perfectly formed but I fail to bring it to life. I have tried so many times and it doesn’t just work out! I feel so bad about myself. So, so bad!”

She kept complaining about her predicament for the next 5 minutes. I did not stop her neither did I try to explain to her yet. Maybe I was trying to be emphatic. To help her express her emotions well or I was trying to get my thoughts formed. Whichever was the case, it worked.

I took a chair and sat down close to her. It seemed like she was waiting for it as immediately, she put her head on my laps. I haven’t seen her so emotional in a while.

Aderinsola is my younger sister. I am about 10 years older than her as she is just 18 years old. I still wonder why my parents decided to give birth to her after 10 years of having me. Irrespective, I am grateful she came into our lives at the time she did. Aderinsola is a beauty to behold. She

Her school was not on session due to the ASUU strike, so, she decided to spend some days with her favourite brother

As she laid on my legs, I began to stroke her hair with my hands. I don’t know where I had learnt that from and how I knew that was the right thing to do but it calmed her.

After a moment of silence, I was able to find my voice and said, “Aderinsola, do you know that the writers that wrote the Novels in Dad’s library all had very bad first draft?”

She was startled! She rose her head up immediately and asked in a high tone voice, “Really?”

Seeing I had caught her attention, I responded, “Yes, Aderinsola. They have very bad starts to their novels and that is why it is called a first draft. First drafts are by nature messy, clumsy and shitty!”

Your first draft is not where you get it right. Instead, it is where you dump all your ideas about a topic. Our schools taught us to think our first draft has to be perfect by limiting our writing time and paper

Today, we have the luxury of a computer and of time. We can roll out all we know about a topic and come back to edit it at any point in time. The best writers have the worst first draft. You know why? They understand its power.

The first draft helps you write without any restriction or form of perfection. Here you are not thinking about right or wrong. You are thinking about the topic itself. You are answering the question, “What do I know about this topic?”

In your first draft, you are trying to learn about the topic. If for instance, your topic is an argument on which is better between living alone or living with a friend, your first draft should contain points for both sides.

Always remember that writing is for the sole purpose of thinking and clarifying your ideas. You are trying to decide which you agree or disagree with. Rolling out all of these different points helps you think through objectively.

It is in your second draft you begin to clarify your thought. You then begin to select which you agree with the most and why.

Your first draft is you seeking the different possible answers there could be to a particular topic or question. It is in your second draft that you then begin to argue with yourself which answer is the best possible answer.

Your first draft is for you. It is you saying all you know about a topic. You are not concerned about grammar, spelling, choice of words and all of those other things. The moment you begin to consider all these things in your first draft, you would end up doing a very bad job writing.

Can your first draft get better and more refined? Yes, it should but that would be while rewriting – your second and third draft.

Learn to Embrace your shitty first draft! This is why I advice everyone to write. Writing prevents you from chasing perfectionism. It is action oriented instead of result oriented. Here, you are getting to work immediately without minding the mistakes you are putting down.

Dear Aderinsola, if you want to write a masterpiece like those in Dad’s library, you need to start from somewhere. You need to tell your story the way it has chosen to come out first. You have all the time to edit it afterwards but get it down first.

Aderinsola, when writing your first draft, don’t look back. Write until there is nothing to write again. Then you can start editing

I am looking forward to reading your story.

PS: Aderinsola is an archetype

Similar Posts


  1. I have falling in love with this article. The article is simple but not too simple that it lost the message it was trying to pass across. The message is clearly stated out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *