Why You Should Forget Your First Draft

In writing, your first draft is generally going to be the worst thing that’s going to come out of you. Even worse than the trip to the toilet after a meal that was a little too spicy.

But it doesn’t matter how bad it is. What matters is that you forget about it. (Even better if you fuggetaboutit).

Often, when I return to a forgotten first draft, I immediately see the gaps in my logic and lapses in my grammar that my deranged first draft-self penned. I see it with fresh eyes, like the eyes readers have when they come across my work. That’s where you want to get to by forgetting your first draft.

How to Forget a First Draft

Even when they say you never forget your first, your first draft is something you should definitely find ways to forget.

1. Immerse yourself in something else

An easy way to drive away all thoughts of your first draft is to immerse yourself in something else.

I’m not saying do something else. I’m saying immerse. Plunge. Become absorbed in another project or activity entirely.

Usually when you just do something else, the first draft is still going to hang around like a bum who just doesn’t want to leave. But when you really give yourself to something else — trying to beat your typing speed record, making a playlist for the weekend, go down the Whose Line Is It, Anyway? YouTube rabbit hole — you won’t have any mental space to think about the first draft.

2. Let it sit

If you have enough time, don’t touch your draft for a day or two. Or three, why not? If you really can, you can tuck it away for a few weeks or months. That’ll guarantee you’ll forget the first draft so much that you’ll be shocked it still exists when you revisit it.

3. Change the font

If you’re really working on a deadline and you can’t afford to leave it alone, something I’ve done before was to change the font to something starkly different, like Comic Sans. It gives the piece an unrecognizable look, emulating the forgotten-draft experience.

Seeing your first draft for the first time again can trigger epiphanies. You realize how stupid you were, how garbled your logic, or how inconclusive your conclusion actually was.

All this for the better.

At least then, you can create a draft your readers will never forget.

This post was originally published on The Freyncis Newsletter.



Content writer. Graphic designer. Meal-finisher. Seinfeld enjoyer.

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Francis Alcantara

Content writer. Graphic designer. Meal-finisher. Seinfeld enjoyer.