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Dammit, That First Draft of a Blog Post!

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Just two words – first and draft. But it’s these two words (which may excite or horrify people) that will ultimately lead you to writing a copy that your audiences would love to read, share with others and remember. Even when you plan to write a blog post, you’ll start with a first draft. Since a first draft is actually a beginning or a foundation on which to build, it should be special for blog writers. However, there are plenty of people who think their first drafts suck so they would throw them away.

Wait; don’t dump that first draft yet.

Before digging deeper into the topic, I would simply like you take a quick look at these famous quotes –

  • The first draft of anything is shit. ~ Ernest Hemingway
  • It is perfectly okay to write garbage, as long as you edit brilliantly. ~ C. J. Cherryh
  • The first draft is a skeleton, just bare bones. ~ Judy Blume

To be honest, I’ve never heard about any blogger or writer who says their first draft doesn’t need any re-writes. Even the greatest of writers reveal that there’s no such thing as great writing. Only great re-writing!

Popular bloggers like Mark Schaefer, Lee Odden and Christopher Penn have boldly admitted that their first drafts are amazingly bad. Does it surprise you or make you feel that they’re setting the bar too low? Well, they’re only telling the truth. And this public confession of theirs reveals one big secret – each one of them is a brilliant editor. Am I right?

As a matter of fact, a good writer is only as good as their editing skills are. Multiple re-writes or edits are crucial to transforming a bad draft into a remarkable blog post (or any great copy for that matter).

Do you know what I do? Many times, I would simply write the first draft of a blog post and then leave it untouched for 2-3 days. It rarely happens that I’ll finish the first draft, edit just once quickly and make it go live, unless I’ve an emergency. I know that I can always go back to my first draft, no matter how shitty it looks, and keep rewriting or editing it until I get almost exactly what I want for my readers. Going back and looking is also fun, isn’t it? Moreover, writing a bad first draft is much better than not writing at all.

Writing first drafts is easy. It’s the re-writing part which requires both time and skills. That’s exactly why writing and re-writing are two different things. While writing is a creative process, re-writing is analytical. It’s almost impossible for the human brain to function creatively and analytically at the same time in an outstanding manner. When you deal with writing the first draft and creating the final copy separately, the process becomes easier and effective as well. That’s how it works with most writers.

When you’re starting to create the first draft, language or writing style rarely matters. What really makes the difference is the story, not the presentation. Forget about metaphors and symbolism and rules. All you should focus on is pouring your story and your point out. It’s important to let your imagination soar with all the freedom as you write the first draft. Avoid halts to search for the perfect word or phrase or sentence. Also, remember to make notes as you go while keeping focus on the bigger picture.

Just keep writing, and get to the end.

Once you’ve finished writing the first draft, leave it. Go out, have some fun or celebrate with your friends. Get back to it only after a few days and begin with the re-writing process to create a great blog post.

It’s never advisable to skip re-writing or editing just because it takes effort. No matter how good your first draft may look the moment you finish it, you’ll feel the need for various edits once you take a microscopic look at it after a few days’ gap. Many bloggers detect mistakes even with their edited and published blog posts. So, they’ll keep editing their blog posts several times even after making them live. It’s only because they either didn’t edit appropriately or skipped it altogether. Before you leave the first draft to hibernate for a couple of days, therefore, accept that it’s unfinished and you’ll have to come back to it again, for turning rough sketches into a lovely painting.

Re-writing or editing is a good habit which you should always follow, as it helps you become a better writer. Those who avoid it only prevent their writing skills from improving further with time.

What does the first drafts of your blog posts usually look like? Please share your thoughts, views and experiences.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Yogiraj February 18, 2014, 9:46 am

    Really cool one! The same I do, as I’ll always rewrite my first draft many times before making it go live. And I think others, who want to create quality stuff and become better writers should do it too.

  • Krishnamurthy February 19, 2014, 8:23 am

    An impressive post. Editing and rewriting skills must be constantly honed. Thanks.

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