Writing, Writing the First Draft
Comments 15

The First Draft: fodder for the writing process

“Make writing your practice. If you commit to it, writing
will take you as deep as Zen.”

Katagiri Roshi


It’s been a very long while – several months- since my last blog post. Although I had not blogged, I had been actively creating word art and exploring many writing avenues. 

Writing the first draft of my memoir was a very therapeutic and eye-opening experience. As I mentioned in a previous post, memoir writing was like an exercise in connecting the dots that were my life experiences. It was at the same time therapeutic and draining, because the energy that came along with the memories demanded to be written, no matter if the body was tired from the day’s work. 

Connecting the dots of my life also showed me that there were a few missing dots-those pursuits and interests that I had put aside to give way to a life dedicated to helping others heal themselves. So after the first draft was written, I felt it was time to give the memoir a vacation and focus on spending time creating those missing dots which meant indulging in activities and hobbies that I had loved and discarded.

I had a blast! It felt like falling in love with life all over again when I picked up old tools and worked with them to create something new. It was fun, inspiring and pure play!  Blogging had to take a backseat as well – although if there were more hours in a day I would have continued posting here. I was thirsty though, starved as well, in those areas of my life so I decided to dedicate a few months in satisfying the starved creative in me.

Now the challenge is to strike a balance in my life and incorporate these no-longer missing dots into my life.

The First Draft  

As for the memoir, well, the first draft is finished. It’s only when you finish writing your first draft that you realize that what other authors say about first drafts are true:

  • “It is the beginning of a work that the writer throws away.” -Annie Dillard
  • “The first draft is going to suck. But there will be inspiration, there will be ideas, and there will be a framework upon which you can further refine those ideas — and that framework is the writer’s playground.”   – Jon Gingerich
  • “All first drafts are shit.” –Ernest Hemingway
  • “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ― Terry Pratchett

  • Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts… The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say, “Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?,” you let her. No one is going to see it. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy, emotional territory, you let him.” -Anne Lamott
  • “We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.” – Gene Luen Yang

The task at hand is now to revisit the first draft, refine, reduce…but for the most part I think this part of the writing process will be like writing a different memoir altogether.

Wish me luck!






Featured image by Neslihan Gunaydin via Unsplash



  1. Lovely post, Rosanna. I’m so inspired by the way you are honoring life’s muse and following your instincts and enjoying yourself. Congratulations on completing your first draft! That is an amazing accomplishment. All my best to you as you take the next step. ❤


    • Thanks Di, it hasn’t been easy befriending the muse, but all the efforts were well worth it. So too, all that went into the completion of the first draft. You have been an inspiration as well.!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I take my inspiration from Anne Lamott (and Ernest Hemingway I suppose as that’s where she got it from) and write “Shitty First Draft” at the top of my first drafts. So I don’t feel pressure to make it un-shitty and I can just get it out there. Good job on finishing your first draft!!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janelle. That’s a great idea – to put the words “Shitty First Draft” on top of the pages of the first draft. Yes indeed, the first draft should be pressure-free. I’ll try that next time! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So much to comment on here, Rosanna. 1. Yay! You wrote a first draft. That’s mighty impressive! 2. You picked up old loves and gave them another whirl and filled your creative tank with something new (but old). 3. Love all the quotes. I am only now learning to let work marinate before sending into the world. Patience is not one of my natural virtues but I’m working on acquiring it. I wish you patience and love as you go into the editing process – another step in the process I’m learning to love, too. Congratulations!


    • Oh, Suzanne, I think your writing is very good even without marination! I am a slow writing turtle, so my work naturally marinates with the length of time it takes me to write 🙂 Thanks so much for the kind wishes for the next step — daunting to even think of it, because the first draft is definitely trashable!


  4. Susanna, I’m so excited you’ve gotten our first draft down. “…this part of the writing process will be like writing a different memoir altogether.” There is much truth there, I think, as I’ve experienced that as I re-write the draft of my novel. Cheers to you!—Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot for the cheers, Julie. I know the second draft will be very different from the first one. I wish you well too in your novel writing. Glad you dropped by!


  5. Good luck, Rosanna! And if and when time allows, I hope you’ll tell us what things you’ve rediscovered that had to be set aside to make way for your healing career. I am circling around re-engaging with drawing, and watercolors, so that really ‘pinged’…

    I like the freedom awarded by all those great authors on first drafts, but I don’t believe that necessarily means all first drafts fall into the disastrous category! There’s a group of writers. I discovered in teaching, who constantly revise and edit, so their first drafts take forever…but they are almost finished products when complete. I’m curious to know how other writers approach the drafting challenge…I think some of us write from a plan, some of us create the plan as we write, and some of us, like the people who edit and revise within the draft, may combine elements of each…

    Anyway…I really wanted to let you know it is wonderful to ‘hear’ your blogging voice again. All the best as you revise your memoir!



  6. Hi Pam,
    My first draft was written based on a method I learned in memoir class, which was very effective in enticing the psyche to release the memories, which proved to be quite a deluge. 🙂 I didn’t do any editing at all, so it is really a rough draft.

    As for those activities I rediscovered after writing the first draft – how about that, it’s also watercolor painting among others! I used to be very active in sports – mountaineering and ice skating were my favorite sports. I still have to revisit those activities, but at least I’m painting again.

    Thanks for dropping by and apologies for the late reply….


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