Worried the 1st draft of your book is bad? Worry no more.

by | 18 Jul 2021

You can stop fretting because your book is bad.

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

The first draft is something to be incredibly proud of.

Most people never get there. You’ve scaled the most challenging peak. You still need to ford rivers and slay beasts before you can publish. But the first draft is the toughest, so give yourself a hearty pat on the back.

That doesn’t mean your book is any good. Far from it.

As a first draft, your book is the worst it will be. But it will get better.

Put it away for a week, maybe a month. Not any longer, or you’ll get accustomed to ignoring it. Leave it in a drawer and forget about it. If you have any thoughts about your book, jot them down but don’t do anything. Mark in your calendar when you are going to get the book out again.

When you come back to your book, be kind to yourself.

I remember my first book, which I wrote in 2010. I came back to it and thought that someone had hacked the file. It seemed like a different person had written it. This is exactly what you want.

You need distance from your first draft.

It makes it easier to judge it objectively. You can read it more like a reader would. You will be able to see the flaws: missing chapters, extra chapters, confusing prose, skimmed over concepts, shaky logic, tortured metaphors, meandering passages, boring explanations, dull stories, and so on.

Looking at all this, remind yourself that the hardest part is over. Seeing a flaw is the first step to fixing it. Get going with the second draft.

Your book is about to get better, much better.

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