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  • Writer's pictureHolly Flynn

My Drafting Process

Updated: Jan 5, 2022

Having been a writer for almost 20 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about drafting along the way: some through trial and error, some from other writers, some from books. It’s a tricky subject on which to offer guidance because all writers draft differently; there’s no “one size fits all” approach. We all process and create in unique ways.

I’ll admit: my own drafting process is a bit odd. As an impatient person, I hate sitting on an idea and letting it flesh out in my mind. I want to immediately go to the page and start writing, which in itself isn’t a bad thing; however, once I start writing, the idea seems to lose some of its magic due to not being developed enough (which always reminds me of my creative writing professor, who believed you needed to let ideas stew long enough before putting them to paper). This is what happened with NaNoWriMo; I drafted until I reached 50,000 words, and though I did hit par, my draft was a messy, semi-plotless heap of prose.

Now, it may seem silly to say this, but this is a drafting process that works for me. Why? Because I’m a pantser (aka, a writer who “writes by the seat of their pants”), and I often get my best ideas by wading the dark, waiting for the next big idea to pop up. It’s when my characters start to form their personalities and I begin to see how everything could potentially connect. The downside of this process though is that my first drafts are mostly unsalvageable for the second draft; I have to go back and start fresh in order to get the plot and characters in their places.

However, exploration is fun. You get to tinker with all the elements of your story, dig up those pieces of gold you may have missed on the first go-round. It’s because of this that drafting is my favorite part of writing; I get to entertain all the ideas that I want without having to worry about the editing phase (where I’ll inevitably have to whittle away and tighten a lot of what I’ve written).

So, my advice? Enjoy the drafting phase. Let it be whatever you want it to be, evolve into anything you please; drafts don’t need to be the least bit perfect or precise. That part comes later, when you truly begin your plot work–unless of course you’re a planner and aim to get as much of that done while in the drafting phase (though even if you have, your plot will undoubtedly shift over time).

What does your drafting process look like? What aspects of it do you struggle with? Let me know in the comments below!

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