From Zero Draft… to Hero Draft

Think of them as choices, not mistakes.

Image for post
Image for post

Our initial draft of any story is going to be flawed. We know that going into the process. And yet after we finish that first draft and read it, it’s easy to get discouraged when assessing what we’ve got because it often feels like page after page of mistakes.

Let me offer a Zero Draft perspective: There are no mistakes. There are CHOICES. We have a scene. Or a character. Or a dialogue exchange. Whatever we’re writing, it represents one or more choices. So we try one. If it works, great. If not, they still represent progress. Why? Because those choices which don’t work are paths we have explored and now KNOW, ‘Hey, don’t go there. Not fruitful.’ That’s not a mistake, a negative. Instead it’s actually a NET POSITIVE because we have surfaced that knowledge and insight into the story.

Image for post
Image for post

Another Zero Draft way to look at it: Imagine your script when it’s been rewritten to the point where it sings, it’s awesome, it’s great. You can’t have possibly gotten there unless you wrote your way through all those many drafts. Those supposed ‘mistakes’ are actually parts of a bridge to get you from where you started to where you will end up with your final final draft.

That word ‘mistake’ is really more in the wheelhouse of our Inner Critic, our Voices Of Negativity. Ultimately that part of our Self which wants to undermine our creativity has a goal to make us feel like ANY ATTEMPT we make to write something is itself a mistake. “Who are you kidding? Why are you even trying this? It’s a waste of time. You’re delusional to think you can write anything worthwhile. It’s a mistake, can’t you see that?”

So when assessing a manuscript and those voices creep into our heads, why not put on the Zero Draft hat? Instead of using the word ‘mistake,’ use the word ‘choice’. Narrative choices we make can never be a mistake because if we end up revising them, even substantially, we will have learned something important about our story, what does and doesn’t work. Moreover every choice represents a part of a bridge we are building from where we start to where we end.

And that’s how we get from Zero Draft to Hero Draft.

What do you think: Use the word ‘choice’ instead of ‘mistake”. Helpful?

To learn more about the Zero Draft approach to writing and share insights and inspiration with a like-minded group of writers from around the world, check out the Zero Draft Thirty Facebook Group.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store