Self-Help for Graduate Students Part 2: Summary of “Write a First Draft to Find Your Story”

Publishing Info: Dufresne, John. “Write a First Draft to Find Your Story.” The Writer. September 2007, pages 22-23.

Time Investment: Two pages in a popular (as opposed to scholarly) publication

“You have nothing to prove in the first draft, nothing to defend, everything to imagine.”

According to Dufresne, beginning writers often make the mistake of being too critical while writing the first draft, becoming discouraged if they can’t realize their dream for the finished manuscript right away. First drafts are a place for spontaneity and surprise, and so the writer should not focus on the form or content of the story.

“Do not try to write beyond what the first draft is meant to accomplish: Do not demand or expect a finished manuscript in one draft.”

Defresne suggests free-writing, brainstorming, or free-associating if stuck while writing a first draft. The most important thing is to keep writing through the feelings of confusion: “If you’re having trouble, that means you’re thinking.”

“Trust in the writing process . . . none of it is wasted.”

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