Facing the Reality of Writing a Rough Draft

by Kerry Kerr McAvoy

Okay, it’s common knowledge that the rough draft is supposed to be bad. We are told to write the “shittiest” one possible. The most important thing is to finish it. To let the words flow out onto the page or computer screen without too much censorship.

That’s easier said than done. If you are like me, you probably have fallen in love with your rough draft.

I recently finished my manuscript and started self-editing. Excited for feedback, I sent it off to my editor for her first look. A few weeks later, I heard back, and not what I expected either. Instead of the glowing words affirming that it was the best piece of work she’d ever seen, I heard the opposite—it wasn’t working.


The painful truth is we call the first draft a rough draft for a reason—because it’s supposed to be bad! The critical takeaway is to embrace the suck. Expect your first pass to need a lot of work as a normal part of the writing process.

The goal of a first draft is to finish writing. That’s it!

You will get to make it a powerful read once the editing and revising stage begins. So, please, take it from me, it’s okay to have a shitty first draft. Birthing a book is a messy process.

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