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Why I Don’t Compare My Zero Drafts to Other Writers’ Final Drafts

As I was reading articles on Medium this week I came across the quote, “Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts at the top.” And it prompted me to think about how I combat the comparison trap as a new novel writer in an established field.


I think one of the most difficult things I’ve encountered as an entrepreneur and now specifically as a writer, is this need and desire to compare my first draft to someone else’s 10 to 20-year career.

Essentially, I’m comparing my first draft to the final draft that ends up on the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble.

In all truth, I don’t always compare my first draft to a final draft of another author but I do often compare my second or third drafts to theirs.

It can be difficult to read a book for inspiration, information, or modeling without getting down in the dumps about where you’re at with your writing. I struggled with this a lot when I was writing my new upcoming book.

I wanted my first draft — scratch that, my zero draft — to be as close to perfect as possible. Let me tell you right now, there’s no such thing as a perfect zero draft.

No matter what you do, no matter how good of a writer you are, your zero draft is going to suck. And let me be also clear, it is 100% okay for that to be the case.

Your zero draft is supposed to suck. That’s why it’s called a zero draft.

And yet, I still have to keep myself humble and know that my zero draft as a first-time book author is not nearly as polished as my friends’ zero drafts might be. Where they have already written another book or two and know how to come at their original drafting with tighter vocabulary, description, and pacing.

I’m over here wandering around in the dark a little bit.

Do I know a lot from school and my journey in life? Yes, I do. But am I also still learning a whole new craft that is complicated, strategic, and takes time to learn? Also yes.

And that’s totally okay. It’s perfectly fine for me to take my time learning. And it’s perfectly fine for me to mess up my first draft and have to take time to learn how to revise it.

Even the best authors that I read have said that even in their newest book they still learn something new in their revision process. They still learn something new in their drafting process. Not even the best authors know everything. And the good ones are humble and amazing enough to admit that.

If you learned everything you ever needed to know about writing the first time you wrote something, would writing even be fun?

Would it even matter?

Would you want to keep writing?

I know I probably wouldn’t.

Let me know your thoughts on writers falling into the comparison gap especially early on in their writing careers. I would love to hear your thoughts!


*This article was originally published on Medium

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