5 Myths about Writing the First Draft of Your Book

By: Mary Anna Rodabaugh in Book Writing and Editing
on May 17th, 2021

Writing a book is an extraordinary journey that is bound to come with fits and starts. You may encounter writer’s block, a demanding schedule that compromises your writing time, or even a slight battle with impostor syndrome. No matter what your book writing journey throws your way, there is one goal you should stick with no matter what: completing your first draft.

Myth 1. Your First Draft Has to Be Perfect

The first draft of your book doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be good! Your first draft is like trying on that outfit for date night to see if you like it or experimenting with a brand-new recipe for the first time. You’re going to learn what you like and don’t like about your book. These lessons will give you a solid foundation for editing as you continue through the book writing process.

Myth 2. Writing a Book Is a Linear Process

There is no wrong way to write a first draft. This means you can start crafting your ending and work backward to the beginning of your book. Or you can dive into a meaty middle and pad the beginning and ending as you see fit. Many writers prefer to develop a comprehensive outline prior to writing the first draft. With this guide in place, you can follow your inspiration and tackle any part of your book when you feel called to do so.

“The first draft of your book doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be good!”

Myth 3. Your First Draft Has to Be “Crappy”

We’ve all heard the phrase “crappy first drafts.” However, your first draft of your book does not have to be crappy. In fact, you could end up channeling that sweet spot of book writing over and over again and develop a draft that requires minimal editing. You never know! So, while your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, you should absolutely put your heart and soul into your book’s first draft.

Myth 4. Writing a Book Is Easy

This may be obvious, but if writing a book is so easy, everyone would be doing it. The first draft is going to challenge you in many ways. You’re going to think of new chapters, discover new themes, and even dream up new ways of painting each scene through your words. First drafts can inspire “shiny object syndrome” and take you down many different paths before you land on a complete manuscript. Lean into these explorations as some of the most fruitful ideas come from wandering inspirations.

Are you ready to write your book?

Myth 5. Your First Draft Should Be Complete in a Set Amount of Time

Some writers can bang out a first draft of an entire book in a few short months. Other writers take up to a year or more. Once you’ve established your own writing cadence, set a reasonable timeline for your first draft milestones. You may want to hire a book writing coach to keep you on track and hold you accountable in a supportive manner. Every writer is different. There is no universal timing benchmark for completing your first draft.

Along the same lines, there is no set word count for your first draft. You can set a word count goal, but don’t worry if your first draft is over or under the count. The length of your book is bound to change after it goes through the editing process.

Ultimately, crafting your first draft is a challenging journey, but once you reach the finish line, you’ll feel waves of satisfaction. Wallow in it, and then it is time to prepare for edits.