Writing the first complete draft of anything is a major accomplishment. Don’t let anyone tell you different. The chasm between an idea and a completed draft is the difference between looking at the moon and visiting it.
The problem with a first draft is its often too precious to the writer. Its too full of inspired moments that have not yet been fully realized. If you woke up one morning from a vivid dream and tried it write it down, you’d probably only capture thirty percent of the dream. However, because it felt so real, you’d believe that first draft captures everything. Then you give it to your friend and they read it and go, “So what, you fought a penguin with a flaming sword and a squadron of trained monkeys.”
No matter how proud you are of that first draft, it’s best if you put it away and let the moments of inspiration, the “vivid dream,” fade away so you can look at it with fresh eyes. Then, you’ll realize that your first draft didn’t clearly explain the historic connection with the flaming sword and the monkeys, or that the penguin is a lot like a kid who used to bully you in middle school.
Holding the first draft of your story in your hands is like holding your creative off spring, and just like any proud parent, you’re initial instinct is to hold it up for the world to see. Fight the urge. You’ll be grateful you did.
I’m now working on the tenth draft of our first novel and the seventh draft of our second. With each version the story gets better, more clear, and the characters become more real, more believable. The flow of the ideas move better and the transitions from one moment to the next smooth out and become seamless.
I think back to all of the people who’ve read the earlier drafts and I wish I had been more patient for feedback. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Those who read drafts two, five or six aren’t going to want to read version eleven or twelve. They’ll just say “Yeah, I read that, it was pretty good.”
You’d never show the first sketch of a planned painting, or a block of marble of a planned statue, so keep your first draft of your manuscript to yourself. It is an accomplishment, but the prize is showing off your finished product.
Take your time. Be patient. It’s worth the wait.