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Your First Draft Sucks

Posted on February 12, 2019

How can there be one correct way to start writing? When this blog post was written at first it was just a lot of me staring at a blank word document hoping the words I wanted to say will come and magically appear on the screen. Everyone starts writing differently whether it be spewing words with no abandon or staring at a blank screen thinking to yourself.  Anne Lamott herself, is some who believes first drafts are the mad scientist of drafts. She wrote in her essay “Shitty First Drafts”, that first drafts should not make too much sense but they are great for seeing where you want to take your writing. They can be funny and informal but, have some great points, hooks and one liners to draw readers in. Similarly, Donald Murray in “The Maker’s Eye” believes the first draft can never be the final draft. He says that the first draft is there for everyone to pin down the “seven elements” so that a piece of writing is clear to the reader (Murray,pp.10). This helps to provide a focus and direction for someone’s writing that is messy. In the revision period, Murray says it is good to take into account what the reader’s are seeing and understanding and to have the writer take a step back.

Here are some of the tips that I have learned from these articles. For one, I think Lamott’s nonsense writing might help me a bit. This method will help to just get words on a page and it does not have to be perfect. It can allow me to write ideas down and expand on them before I forget them. It could also lead me down a surprise path that I may not have consciously thought of. I also really liked Murray’s idea of reading the essay out loud. For me, it is sometimes easier to hear grammatical issues than see them. Sometimes your brain just fixes what your eyes are seeing and that makes editing a paper hard. Finally, I believe that tone plays an important part in any writing. This allows for the writer to shine through and show their conviction for what they are writing. The tone shows me and how I feel and not just the fact and evidence.


  1. jesesposito

    Great points made! I do the same, staring at the screen expecting something to show up. One of the best tips is just to write whatever, and eventually go back and revise it. I also agree that using tone can be super beneficial, and definitely want to attempt to read my essays out loud to see the flow of it.

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