It’s Okay If It’s Terrible

Two things don’t mix well: writing and perfectionism. Why? Because writing is one of those art forms where you’re guaranteed not to have the perfect outcome on your first try.

Yet, somehow, even knowing this…I tend to beat myself up when my stories have unnecessary scenes, rabbit trails, out-of-character moments, and plot holes in the drafting process. I find that I’m demanding a level of perfection from my first draft and myself that I would never expect from anyone else. When did I become the exception to the allowance for a “ROUGH first draft”?

When did you?

My encouragement to all of you this week is this: give yourself grace. Give grace to your draft. Allow it to be as rough as it needs to be in order to get it done and down on paper. That will present itself differently for everyone’s WIP, but the standard is the same: it is okay not to have the story you want in the first draft.

You can fix it. You can make it better. You can make it look how you want – later. The drafting process is the time to lay down the bones, so that over time, you can overlay the muscles, the sinew, the flesh. Maybe those elements will come to you as you draft. That’s great, add them in! Maybe they won’t. That’s okay, too.

Your draft is allowed to be rough and cringe-worthy. You’re not a poor writer because of it. And your story is by no means irredeemable. Today, don’t listen to your inner critic. Today, just write. And tomorrow, just write. And in time, from that, you’ll build a completed draft. It may be hard to look back over once it’s done…but you can do it. Now you can edit, and you can mine the diamond from the rough.

But first, you have to give yourself the grace to write that rough draft. You can’t edit and improve what you don’t put down on paper.

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