Are you a first draft bodger?

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I am a very happy writer, having a few days ago finished the first draft of my third novel. I will be sharing more about my new project next month. It’s a middle-grade children’s story – a departure for me, since BASIC Boy and Falling Girl are both teen/YA. This means that it’s somewhat shorter than what I’ve written before, the first draft coming in at 27,000 words. And of course there’s still a lot of work ahead. Both BASIC Boy and Falling Girl went to five or more drafts, and I don’t expect this one to be much different.

It also feels especially good because, as I shared not long ago, I’d been finding it quite difficult this year to really get going with anything, let alone finish it. The first draft is always a milestone and I’m relieved to have stumbled past it once more. Maybe I am still a writer after all!

Mind you, I’ve realised that I’m something of a first-draft bodger. In case you’re not familiar with the term ‘bodge’ (it might be peculiarly British, I don’t know), it basically means to do something quickly and without too much care. I don’t want to ‘bodge’ my books – but the way I see it, a first draft is always going to be a highly imperfect work-in-progress which remains in need of a lot of TLC. It’s a start, basically, not anything close to the finish.

So, I try to whack out my first drafts pretty quickly, once I’ve got a good idea of plot, structure and the characters involved. I don’t spend much time going back and fixing things – I’d rather do that in the second draft, when I can view it all as a whole. At that point I’m in a far better position to assess the novel, its structure, strengths and weaknesses etc. That said, if I see any obvious errors or something that clearly isn’t working as I’m writing the first draft, I will change it right away; but I just don’t look too hard for those things.

I imagine some people approach this a little differently, and spend a lot longer crafting their initial draft, so that perhaps less radical work is needed further down the line. Everyone’s different and I’m not saying that’s wrong. If that works for other writers, then great.

There’s another thing I’m quite happy about, which is that recently this blog passed the one hundred followers mark. I’m amazed that that many people deem my random ramblings as worth following, so if you’re one of them then thank you.

Finally – I’m going on holiday tomorrow with my family to France, so taking a rest from WordPress for a couple of weeks, though I may dip in occasionally when I find wifi. Hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer. I think I will – though of course part of my brain is still mulling over the first draft and thinking of possible improvements, even while I’m trying to shove it to the back of my mind, ready to approach it again next month with fresh eyes.

Au revoir!


  1. Definitely a first draft bodger… And simultaneously a first draft ignorer — the process in which I just blindly write the first draft without taking a single second to look back because I know I’ll get sucked into prematurely editing and possibly never escaping the first draft void.

    Enjoy France!

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