I was listening to an old Tim Ferriss podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, recently, a guy who is well known for dissecting the essence of excellence, and he was interviewing Neil Strauss about what made him such a great writer. The whole episode is worth listening to, but this particular part about drafts, and what the purpose of each one should be stuck out particularly for me. I think it was some great advice, and could work well for other writers in the making.
The first draft is for me. It’s very common, says Strauss, for a novice writer to want to produce publishable pages on the first pass. If you do that, you’ll never get past the first chapter. Your first draft is just for you. The purpose is to get it all out of your head. You’ll write too much, and you won’t say it well, but at least everything you want to say will be out there, on pages in front of you, and not swimming around in your head.
The second draft is for your reader. Go through it again and think about what that reading experience will be like. Remove anything that’s not interesting and necessary.
The third draft is for the hater. Go through it and anticipate those criticisms, and make it hater-proof.