#Writers : Do You Believe in Shitty First Drafts? #amwriting

Hemingway famously said: The first draft of anything is shit.

This speaks to me, because most times the first drafts of my short stories are indeed shitty. The first draft of my novel was even more so.

But when it comes to flash fiction, some of my best work happens in the first draft. I keep tweaking and moving words even as I write, and one sentence moves me to the next one, and the next. I rarely do rewrites of flash pieces– most take a few tweaks and off they go for submission.

This leads me to believe that there are two ways of writing: 1) puking it all out on to the page, then revising and 2) spitting and polishing each sentence as you write. I suppose I do a bit of both– depending on the length of story I’m writing.

I guess I need a lot of writing practice before I can carry the voice for longer than a flash piece. For now, I would have to settle for being a shitty first drafter– because that’s what seems to work for longer pieces.

Here’s an excerpt from an article  I came across recently (which is worth a read, in case you’re interested in the writing process): 

In fact, I cannot even allow myself to write a shitty first sentence,
let alone immediately follow the first with another few hundred shitty
sentences. This does not mean that what flows from my brain through my
fingertips through the keyboard and onto the monitor’s screen is exactly
what I want it to be. In fact, I am a ruthless reviser, an eager

So dear writers, are you a shitty-first drafter, or eager re-writer?

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !


Add Yours
  1. Karo Tockhorn

    I can totally realate to this and see where you are coming from. I feel the same way every time I write an article .
    Very interesting post ! πŸ™‚

  2. Whatsup Guy

    Something I never thought off actually. For my blog the first draft is pretty much the final work. I go by the each line is perfect way. However if I ever were to write a story or something similar, I am not sure how that would go. Something interesting to think about though.

  3. Nima Das

    Like wise,i read and re read and read again and my final draft is never a final till i share with all of you bloggers and get comments and now the sad part,i hardly get any. How do you get people to read your writing and leave a comment? Its so sad that people hardly read any thing. What is your take on this? Any advises for a year old blogger!?

  4. J.L. Campbell

    Hi, Damyanti,

    Like you I spit and polish as I go along. I can't go on to the next sentence until the one I leave behind is saying exactly what it should.

    Thanks ever so much for your continued support. I hope everything is going well for you.

  5. klahanie

    Hey Damyanti,

    Enough of this shit. First of all, have you missed me? I know, who the hell is this commenter!? πŸ™‚

    My writing shit is good shit, first time. I just go with the flow, so to speak. Either that or get Penny the Jack Russell dog to paw the sentence. That dog can produce some mighty fine shit!

    Have a lovely weekend, my dear friend.

    Gary πŸ™‚

  6. Kalpanaa Misra

    Hmmm – thoughtful. No I certainly spit it out onto the page all at one go. Then I rewrite and edit a couple of times. But not as much as I should or could.

  7. Susan Scott

    Thanks Damyanti – I read the link you provided. First drafts? Headache making .. that inner critic .. I guess I do both, tear my hair out first, have more coffee and then get to the task at hand …

  8. dolorah

    Apt expression. I believe my first drafts are just plot concepts waiting to happen. For novels anyway. Ya know, perhaps the first writing of flash fiction is cleaner because of the limited word count. Takes longer to think about each word, phrase, sentence. I'm usually not done with a first draft of a flash until it is all down and perfect in one sitting. i reread it later to catch mispellings and editing errors, but that is all. I wish I could write a novel that way. Even short stories are better after the third or fourth re-write.

  9. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    I outline to death before I begin and then am careful with my wording as I write. My first drafts are usually in decent shape when I finish. I do enjoy revisions though, which is good as there's still a lot of that to do no matter how clean the draft.