Drafting might be one of my favorite steps in the process of writing.
There is so much possibility in the first couple of drafts. While stories have the ability to surprise you at any point in the process, I think the drafting stage is when they are most alive and untamed. No matter how much time you spend in the previous stage of creating the plot many things can change when actually writing. And a story that is just bare bones in the imaginative stage takes on flesh when drafting. While the words might not be very pretty or the ideas as concrete as they become in the editing stage, ideally you come out of the draft stage with a coherent story.
For me, there are a few guidelines I like to follow to get the most out of my drafts:
- Work under a deadline. I find there’s no better way to push past the feeling of the first draft being awful than giving yourself a limited time in which to finish it. Write so fast that you won’t have time to think about whether or not the writing itself is your best work. This is one reason why I love National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) so much, because when you need to write 50,000 words in 30 days, there is no time to waste!
- Use accountability. Make a commitment to someone or something. Promise a friend that you’ll share the draft with them when you’re done. Or participate in NaNoWriMo. Or find a writing group that will be awaiting the work’s completion. Put a little peer pressure on yourself so you won’t cop out when you reach hard parts.
- Follow the story to its end. While the writing doesn’t matter as much in the drafting stage, getting the story out does. (And I’m a believer in writing in chronological order.) Let the characters do their thing and go with the adventure of the story. This is what makes this stage so fun to me — anything can happen!