3 Questions You Should Ask Before Starting Your First Draft

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The first draft. It is important to understand, first and foremost, that a first draft will most always be a shitty one. Anne Lamott says it best in her popular writing book, Bird by Bird (1994), she states, “For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.”

Lamott and so many other writers embrace the first draft as a means of letting everything pour out on the page. It’s important to let go of the worries, fears, and anxieties associated with that first draft and simply write. That first “rough” draft is a creative process all unto its own, and for each of us, is just as unique as the writer and their voice. Learning to hone that creative process is essential in generating a strong first draft that will ultimately become the final masterpiece.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when discovering your own creative process and constructing strong first drafts.

What goals do I have set for my first draft?

Anytime we set goals for ourselves, it helps establish a guideline that we can follow. It’s like a rope strung alongside a bridge. Not only does it keep us from falling, it also keeps us steady and able to take careful steps from one side to the other.

Ask yourself what purpose you have in writing a novel? Are you planning to publish? Or, are you writing simply because you enjoy it?

Seeking answers to these questions will help you to set healthy deadlines, word counts, or allow you to skip goals and write freely.

Do I write or do I re-write?

Understanding the type of writer you are, and the kind of writing you wish to accomplish, is a great way to shape your writing style and the way in which you chose to draft your work. Some writers enjoy the planning and drafting phase while many others prefer to sit down and write what comes to them.

Either method works because you’re getting thoughts, prose, and action out on the page; however, those who’ve planned have a little to a lot more structure to their first drafts and may find they spend less time working the second and third into a final piece. The “pantsers” of the writing world may have a lot of great material to work with, but also spend more time sifting through their drafts to find it when they start the revision process.

What are the biggest challenges I find in finishing my first draft? 

Many writers struggle to finish the first draft. The task can become daunting, overwhelming, and intimidating. It seems that once these pressures set in, the excuses to not write are not far behind. It is important to find what triggers these feelings and begin to find ways to counteract them.

Finding areas that cause struggle in your writing process, and learning ways to combat them, provide tools that allow freedom and creativity while turning our first drafts into final perfected ones.

Do you have a topic you would like us to cover? Let us know about your suggestion. 


About Author

I am an avid lover of creating fictional stories, poems, creative non-fiction, and recently, reviews, and blog content. Professionally speaking, I am new to the community of Inkitt Writer's Blog. I have a growing collection of cherished stories that really evolved when I began my graduate studies. I am eager to share the tips, techniques, and practices that have helped me create what I hope will continue to be strong, solid, creative work. I hold a Master's in Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction Writing. I never shy away from an opportunity to step outside my own comfort zones to seek new and effective writing practices that help strengthen my own writing, and love sharing that knowledge with my fellow writing community. I believe that we all begin our journey from an ambiguous place. As we traverse the many paths our stories will take us, is where we will find our voice and a growing wisdom to continue evolving as successful writers. It’s the experience, the hard-work, sacrifice, and striving to create something better than the last story, poem, or article that allows the fortitude to continue progressing along our writing journey.


  1. Richard Hebert on

    I hate to write. However I am a prisoner of words;short words, long words and words that seem to resonate in my head. I am a word thief as I steal any word I find in Webster’s or how a word is used by any writers I read. Sometimes I read a sentence and see a word that make me think of how I can use it in one of my sentences. The only training I have had is online but not much in formal school, as I dropped out of school when my father died. Now getting back why I hate writing, I can talk out a story easier than putting it down on paper. However rewriting moves me, as I want to see the big picture of my story and see what I think works and what does not goes to the funeral fire. I know I am old to start writing at this age and do not know if anyone would be interested about anything i write by it keeps me out of trouble.

    • Hi Richard, thanks for your message. You can always put your work onto Inkitt where you will be able to see how interested readers are about your stories. Put it to the test!

      How to upload: If you go to our website, you will see a tab at the top that says “Become a Writer.” If you hover above that, you can click “Write or Upload Story,” and that will take you to the story editor (as long as you are logged in first). From there, you can either start writing in the text box OR click on “Upload Manuscript” and upload your .doc/.docx file (make sure it follows the writing guidelines).

      After that, you just upload a cover picture and complete the story settings (“Settings” button on left side). Once you do that, you can submit, and then the work is on its way to our Quality Assurance team.

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