Every Draft Has a Purpose

I used to think that it was enough to just call it “draft 3” and dig in without much planning. But something I realized along the way is that it works way better for me if I’m explicit about the purpose of each draft, of each pass through each project I’m working on. This is particularly important for book-sized projects, but I also like this approach for shorter writing projects, and for my videos, and really anything else that requires multiple passes to complete. The purpose is sometimes vague, like for a first draft, it might be: “what the hell is this thing about?” But for some of the middle drafts, it can be very specific: “Nail down the POV for Kitty” or “Fix that crappy dialogue” or “Follow through with that pocket watch I introduce in Chapter 1.” When I discover issues unrelated to the current purpose, I add it to a running list and get back to the current agenda. Though I’m honestly not as strict about this as it might sound—sometimes I cheat a little, especially for small issues. Sometimes, the new issue is big enough or impactful enough that I need to readjust the whole plan. But it still helps me (and keeps me less freaked out!) to have an explicit purpose for each round.

ANYWAY, here is my video explanation of this idea (which involved many boring wardrobe changes)…

What about y’all? Do you have a specific plan for each draft of your writing? Or do you keep it looser and more flexible than this?

About Yuvi Zalkow

Yuvi Zalkow's first novel was reluctantly published in 2012 by MP Publishing. His forthcoming novel will be published by Red Hen Press. His stories and essays have been published in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, Carve Magazine, The Daily Dot, Rosebud, The Poop Report, and others. He occasionally makes YouTube videos and apps for iPhones. Check out his website if you actually want to find out more.