Why It’s Pointless Polishing Your First Draft

By on September 18, 2020

You might think it’s a good idea to edit as you go. Or perhaps perfect your chapter before moving on to the next one. However, polishing your first draft can be a pretty fruitless exercise. Here’s why:

Your first draft will change so much

If your book is any good, the truth of the matter is that your first draft is going to look very little like your finished draft. So why bother making an effort to edit it in detail now? Because the reality is that the section you are editing could well be one that you completely change. Or be eliminated from your story before the final draft? Accept that a first and even second and third draft is about structuring your account. It's about developing your characters, and understanding how to ensure your plot is fast-paced and riveting. Only when you’ve got these down should you bother looking at how you can refine your writing and polish your text, and this should be much further down the line than a first draft. 

You’ll waste your time and could lose motivation

Trying to isolate a single section of your story and make it shine without being able to do this in context with the rest of the story is a pretty wasteful exercise. It would be best if you were sure of your plot and the journey each character takes before you should attempt to perfect anything. Do yourself a favor and stop wasting your time by attempting to polish your first drafts. You could risk spending so long frustratedly tinkering with it. you lose motivation to complete the rest of the book. 

You’ll never get it the way you want it to be

It can be tricky to ignore elements of your book that you suddenly realize are flawed. Or those that don't flow as they should. However, if this is your first draft, it makes sense to wait until you have the whole book written. Only then should you even think about polishing the writing. You’ll end up tinkering away again and again at those first few chapters this could spell disaster for the future of your book. By focusing on creating that imperfect first, second, and even third draft finished, you’ll then be able to polish and refine your writing. You'll do so knowing that you have a really solid story to work with. That could make all the difference when it comes to the success of your novel!

So leave your editing until much later!

From you above, you can see why you need to wait before you start to edit your novel in detail. Early chapters or scenes may well become totally different as you realize what you need to do to ensure your story unfolds the way you want it. Setting time aside to check your language or sentence structure will only delay your writing process. 

There is no doubt that polishing and editing are necessary. Getting your novel polished will draw upon many of your writer’s skills and creative thinking. But editing and polishing should only be done once you have written multiple drafts and undertaken significant rewriting and reshaping of your work. So make sure you are patient and willing to skip the polish until this point so you don’t waste your time and give your book the best chance of turning into something you can be proud of. 

So now you know why it's not a good idea to polish your first draft, why not read how to make book editing easier!

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bethany cadman
Bethany Cadman - bethanycadmancreates.com

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