Your First Draft vs. Sandcastles

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that I can later build sandcastles.”

-Shannon Hale

Here is one of my favorite writing quotes. I even have it hung up in my room.

Starting your book can be scary. That first draft could be the most intimidating thing you ever face in your writing endeavors. Imagine this, you sit down at your desk, pull out your notebook or computer, ready to start your story. You freeze. All those questions fill your head, like how am I going to do this? What are other people going to think? I don’t want to make a fool of myself; this is impossible.

I’m telling you right now, stop! The worst thing you can do for yourself is to give up. My editor told me that you will always be your worst critic. Look at it this way; no one else knows this story inside your head better than you do. You are the only person who is going to worry so much about how it turns out.

This is why we have our first draft. As Shannon Hale says, we’re just shoveling the sand! Editing your book is when the story starts to make sense. When you sit down to write your first draft, you have to keep all those negative, mean thoughts at bay.

The job of your first draft is to get all your ideas on paper in a somewhat organized manner. It’s not supposed to be perfect! Let me repeat that. It won’t be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be!

My first drafts have never been perfect. In Finding Doom, I had so much repetition! It was a mess. But I had all the information there, and when I went to edit, I began to build that sandcastle. I wouldn’t have a book published now, no sandcastle to shape if I never started that first draft in the beginning. You can’t edit a blank page!

Your first draft is when you take all the necessary pieces, all those single grains of sand, and pile them together. If you want to build that sandcastle, you have to have the sand in the bucket first. The first draft is the filled bucket, ready to be edited, to be shaped into that sandcastle.

I want to thank Shannon Hale for providing the world with this beautiful approach to writing.

This is what I want to say. Don’t sit down and try to build a sandcastle from single grains of sand. Write your first draft, shoveling all the sand together so you “can later build sandcastles.”

-R.E. Klinzing

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