How to conquer the first draft of anything

Don’t let first drafts drive you crazy!

The following may sound familiar:

You write a paragraph and read it twice to make edits before moving on. You write another couple lines and stop to edit. Because it has to be perfect. After another couple of lines, you give up. It will never sound good enough. You walk away.

Am I right? This was definitely me as well until I learned how to tackle the first draft. It’s not easy, especially when you’re riddled with perfectionism and probably a little bit of imposter syndrome, but it’s totally possible. Let’s talk about how to write that first draft once and for all.

Before we get into first drafts, I have a free gift for you. If you are just beginning your writing career or at a loss for what to include in your writing portfolio, my guide to building a portfolio with little or no professional writing experience is exactly what you need. You’ll have a portfolio you can feel great about without even needing to be hired in order to have samples of your work! Check it out:

Ok, so here’s the key to claiming victory over your first draft: focus on getting the words on the page, judgement free. Just get words on the page. 

Just get words on the page.

I can’t say it enough. When I started to write my first book, I started and stopped and started and stopped, each time re-reading my work to make revisions to ensure it was perfect before continuing on. I thought I was just being thorough when in reality I was holding myself back from just completing the first draft. Once I trained myself to write without judging myself, everything changed. 

Now I know we’re not talking about writing books here, but the same concept applies with your content writing.

Trust the process

There’s a writing process for a reason. You have your first draft, then second draft, maybe a third draft, maybe a fourth draft. There’s multiple drafts because the first draft isn’t meant to be final. It’s only the first. So allow yourself to treat it just like that!

Now, what if you have a tight deadline? I’ve certainly been tasked with writing something within a day—even minutes! But no matter how fast the turnaround has to be, I still always write the first draft judgement free. Because that’s the only way I personally can create a foundation of something to work with and make better. If I were to revert back to my old ways and write every word like it’s final, I would get nowhere. Pressuring yourself to act as if each word is final can be crippling. Breathe and allow yourself to just write and get words on the page first, then edit.

Practice, practice

You improve by writing, so let’s write.

Here is your task: You work in Marketing for a retail clothing store called Fran’s Fashion and you are tasked with writing a Facebook post about the beauty of fall fashion and how there is something for everyone. You aren’t selling any specific items in this post, you are solely trying to boost the confidence of your viewers and inspire them to step outside of their comfort zones for some hip fall fashion.

Now write. Let the words flow. Get them on the page, judgement free. Remember, we can’t improve as writers without writing, so let’s see what you got! 

Here is MY first draft:

What bold moves will you make this season?

It’s fall and that means warm sweaters, cute boots, and of course—the super comfy leggings. 

Maybe this is your season to be bold with some bold patterns, statement pieces, or that thing you never thought you could pull off. Trust us, you can!

Let’s see how bold you are in one of the best times of year.

Practice, practice, practice

I promise you I did not touch my draft above after I wrote it the first time. This is it! Not perfect, not great, but it’s something. This is definitely a decent foundation to create into a strong final draft. I know I wanted to mention some articles of clothing to choose from, but maybe I could find better adjectives or stronger verbs to use to further inspire and motivate. But this is a good start for now.

With practice, you can eventually just let the words roll out onto the paper (or screen). Even if it’s a rush assignment you have to turn around in minutes, I would say that’s probably when writing a judgement-free first draft is even more important! The faster you can create something to work with, the easier it will be to mold it into what you want.

I hope this helped you. Happy writing!

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