My Shameful First Drafts

Last night the engaging speaker made me think about my own writing habits in so many ways. First, I realized I probably shouldn’t be a professional writer unfortunately. I typically fall short of page requirements, and sometimes it feels like I am pulling teeth just trying to get more information onto the page. I like writing, but mostly I like when I am done writing and have a finished product. And never do I come home from parties and write ten pages of a story. However, I can see a few glimpses of what John U Bacon said about why he knows he should be a writer, like thinking of lots of article or story ideas or making observations differently than other people.

Turning in a First Draft?

What hit me the most about the talk was the emphasis put on writing multiple drafts. An instant feeling of guilt fell on me when he talked about students that turn in first drafts as final papers. So many times my arrogant self has concluded that since I work hard on my first draft, I really don’t need a second draft.   I hate looking over my own work; it makes me cringe in a way. Now that I have developed as a writer more, and especially after being in this class, I have realized the importance of a first draft a little more.I think my greatest fear in this was explained by Bacon when he talked about the part of his book about Penn State that he wanted to hold on to. I hate eliminating or recreating parts of writing that I have worked on so hard, even if they might not be what is best for the paper. Until last night I had never really heard anyone else talk about this part of writing before, so it was comforting and useful to know that other writers feel this desire but also that you need to be willing to let go. Even though I am not as cocky about my first writings, last night was a huge motivation to improve in this area even more. The guilt I felt was enough to inspire me to actually work hard on a second or even third draft of a paper. I am truly motivated to actually face my own writing, and be willing to change it completely.

With these things in mind, I have many goals for myself. In the next couple of weeks, I have a paper for every class due. I want to do a first draft for all of them and then try to completely rip it apart for my second draft! My plan is make an entire new document for the new draft so I am not tempted to overlook certain parts of my essay that I am “okay with.”

So my first step for this weekend…. start a terrible first draft!

2 thoughts to “My Shameful First Drafts”

  1. Eva

    I agree with your statement about how you hate eliminating or recreating parts of your writing. I think I have to condense my papers so frequently because sometimes when I write I go off on unnecessary tangents when I am writing. However, I always have trouble condensing my papers. I have learned to be more willing to receive help from my peers in this process this semester. As a result of my experiences in this class, I have learned that my peers can help my papers significantly. The things people told me about my writing in this class have definitely improved my writing ability.

    As for your papers due in the next few weeks, get them done! Make sure you write those first drafts so that you can produce the best paper you can. Remember, a first draft is meant to be shitty, so don’t get discouraged. Good luck with the papers!

  2. Thanks for this this post, Eva–I agree with Ron’s encouraging words: first drafts are meant to be shitty! This is still something I struggle with as well, but the more I push myself to get started earlier and revise more often, the better my writing becomes, so I’ll keep at it too.

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