By a show of hands, who here writes first, second and final drafts? Somebody? Anybody?
Ok, this is the internet, a show of hands isn’t going to work. But the fact still remains – very few people write more than one draft. The final one. And that’s not good. Like, at all.
This point about writing several drafts came home to me pretty recently. I usually write shorter pieces – essays, short stories, articles. All short stuff. When you’re doing that, you automatically revise as you write, and it’s short enough that you can easily give it a quick once-over when you’re done. And that’s the reason most writers get used to writing without first and second drafts.
The problems really start when you write long pieces, like a novel, because yo just write without looking back. I finished a writing a novel called “Card Theory” a while back. I was confident, I enjoyed the writing. And when I read it, I hated it. I don’t know if any of you have had that experience, but it’s a terrible feeling. After months of writing, when you think you have a finished book, and it turns out that the sentences are unpolished, the plot twists are shaky and the characters are shallow.
The reason for all this is simple. In a word, revision. You just need to make a little mental switch - books don’t come out perfect the first time. When you finish writing the first version, don’t expect it to be a finished product. Every really good book you’ve read has been revised and annotated and edited and revised again.
Do you have any unfinished pieces lying around, which you wrote and then didn’t like? Try to pick them up again. Revise them, slap them into shape, and turn them into the masterpieces they deserve to be.