I'm currently about two-thirds of the way through writing the first (very rough) draft of my New Adult paranormal romance, Kissing Midnight, and I've done a bunch of thinking lately about what exactly a first draft is for. Once upon a time, when I had just started writing, I used to expect the first draft to do everything. I was a perfectionist about it and easily discouraged. Now a days, however, I'm starting to understand that draft one only has to do its own job and all the other stuff can come in later drafts. So what exactly is that job? I think it's easier to talk about what writing draft one feels like:
In the beginning, writing a first draft feels like hacking your way through dense undergrowth with a machete, following the sporadic tracks of some animal called "story" - an animal that most people don't even believe exists, which sometimes only leaves you snapped twigs and day old scat to follow.
In the middle, writing the first draft feels like hand-weaving a loose and holey net and knowing that it will someday be the only safety net that lets you perform the death-defying trapeze act that will be the second draft.
In the end, writing the first draft feels like learning a dance routine that you only know well enough to "mark" it, rather than dance it full out, while your body is aching to stop conserving your energy and start doing the leaps and lifts and reaching all the way through your finger tips, and injuries be damned.
I still have a third of a book left to write, but I have it all mapped out and the end is in sight. I'm excited to get to draft two and start truly digging in and pushing this book to the places I know it can go.