Not (Re)writing Your Way (Yet)

Jun 20, 2014 by

Not (Re)writing Your Way (Yet)

Last month, we contemplated some new methods for planning and writing a novel your way. Rather than writing at the extremes—outlining the entire novel beforehand or just jumping right in with no planning at all—we met in the middle. First, we came up with a general outline of the plot and characters. Then, we broke the novel down into four parts, wrote a specific outline for one part, and then wrote that part before moving on to the next. This method offers a middle ground for planning without sacrificing spontaneity.

As you work your way through each part of your writing plan, abstain from rewriting until after the entire first draft is finished. Just keep pushing forward to the end. If you go back and fix all your mistakes, you risk losing your momentum. But worse, you risk losing your freedom.

Part of the joy of a first draft is the freedom to write whatever comes to mind, to go with your gut, to write something that no one will ever read.

The first draft is for your eyes only. Have fun. Be uninhibited. Write something that would make your mother blush. The more you worry about readers, the more paralyzed the writing.

Rewriting will prepare your text for readers. That will be the next step.

First Draft Dos and Don’ts


  • Accept that your first draft will not be perfect.
  • Enjoy the freedom to write whatever your subconscious dictates.
  • If you change your plan midstream, make notes of what you need to go back and change later.


  • Keep going back to make your text perfect.
  • Worry about your potential future readers. They will not read the first draft.



A completed novel starts as Stone Soup. In order to make a full meal, you have to start with something, even with just a cooking pot, water, and a stone (your rough draft). You’ve got some ingredients, but there’s not enough for a meal. Your rough draft is not ready to be published yet.

Rewriting is like adding the adding the meat and veggies. During this process, you get to smooth out the rough patches and add tasty details.

Editing is like adding the herbs and spices, further perfection of the dish.

But you can’t make the soup if you don’t start with something.

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1 Comment

  1. Jennifer, your posts always make me think (and rethink). Thanks for so many good points to consider. I’ve said during NANO (the ultimate awful first draft) that if I should die during (or after) that first draft files must be deleted immediately as they are so unworthy of the light of day.

    Now I want soup.


  1. Not (Re)writing Your Way (Yet) | Jennifer W. Becton - […] I’m at Indie Jane with a post about the benefits of not stopping forward momentum on your first draft …

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