“The first draft of anything is shit.”
-Ernest Hemingway

So you have this idea. It’s really sparkly in your brain. You think you should write a novel about it. You think it might be a bestseller, or at least worthy of publication and praise. So you write it down. And…


Yes, it’s been known to happen. For some reason or another those sparkly ideas in our brains somehow get muddled on the way down our arm and out our fingertips, and when they land on the page it seems miraculous you even formed a sentence.

Let me repeat some words I heard from James Dasher several years ago at LTUE. He may have been quoting someone else, but I can’t remember who. Anyway, here it is:

“Dare to be bad.”

Yes. Dare to let your work completely suck. I’m saying this to myself as much as anyone, because I’m drafting right now, and it’s so painful! I have the fantasy of writing the perfect first draft, but it’s still not coming true! Every sentence I write seems like complete dreck!

The good news is I know it’s horrible, and the better news is I know how to revise. Revising is the best.

So keep your chin up, and know that even masters like Hemingway wrote complete $#!%.


  1. Good advice! Now if only my revisions didn’t make my bad drafts worse…

    • Lisa

    • September 18, 2012

    • 5:52 pm

    I laughed.

  2. Just what I needed to read. I’m so close to being done with the 1st draft of my novel, and the past couple of days I haven’t been able to get any writing done because I can’t stop thinking about how much it SUCKS!!! so frustrating.

  3. The good thing about revision is that it can make us come up with new scenes or even new characters that we weren’t thinking of the first time around. But I have to admit that it would be nice if my first drafts were perfect (they never are, but then again my final drafts aren’t perfect either). Revision is tough, especially because it’s hard to figure out what to take out when I want to keep everything.

    • Shallee

    • September 19, 2012

    • 5:19 pm

    I have to remind myself of this with every first draft. If I can just keep it in mind, I have a lot more fun writing!

    • Suzi

    • September 20, 2012

    • 1:33 am

    I know it’s horrible too. Mine, not yours. 🙂 But that’s what I get for being more of a pantser. Writing is the fun part for me. Editing at first is okay, but then gets tedious around the 100th go-around.

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