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First Draft Done—But Nowhere Near the End

first draftThe first draft is done! I have slapped over 66,000 words into my computer’s hard drive—and when I say slapped, I mean slapped. This is a complex story and the first draft was a brain dump. I don’t kid myself that this novel is anywhere near finished.

This is the fourth time I’ve completed a novel’s first draft. For my first two, I considered the first draft a nearly done manuscript. A few touch-ups and voilà: ready for publication. (And it almost worked out that way; I signed on with an agent for the first novel, but she was unfortunately not able to find it a publisher. The second novel I have disagreed with and placed aside.)

My third novel was different. I wrote a draft, modified it while working with a mentor through Humber College’s Creative Writing by Correspondence program, then modified it again while working with my agent. The first draft was one of many, many drafts (and I expect more once a publisher signs on)—and was possibly the simplest draft of all. Rewriting until you can find little else to rewrite is much more challenging, I find, than getting the initial ideas out of your head.

So although I feel accomplished to have this latest first draft done, I know the hardest work still lies ahead. I wasn’t thorough; there are gaps. I’m not satisfied; there are bits I’d like to alter. In fact, I’ve already thought of new ideas that will radically revise the work. (Couldn’t I be happy with the way it stands? Why voluntarily add pressure?)

For maybe a week or two, I’ll give myself time to breathe. And then I’ll reread the entire thing. And then I’ll dive in again. And then I’ll wonder why I’m bound to a creative outlet that’s so gosh-darn hard—but keep plugging away at it anyway.

How do you feel when you get to the end of a first draft?

Read previous posts.

About the Author

Posted by Galadriel

Hi, I’m Galadriel: blogger, author, reader and resident of a quaint small town in the breathtaking West Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Congrats on finishing a first draft! It’s definitely a relief (and an accomplishment) to have a complete manuscript in hand…though, of course, every first draft has a lot of editing and reworking in its future. I think your plan to take a short break before diving back into the manuscript is a good one, and is precisely how I feel whenever I finish a draft of a project: ready for a break.

  2. That is great you finished the first draft. It is always hard to believe we go from a blank page, where the task of writing an entire book feels so daunting- to a completed manuscript. Feels awesome when done- even knowing there is always so much more to do!

  3. Congrats! A first draft is a huge accomplishment, no matter how rough. I think you should celebrate!

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