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5 Tips to Get Past that Rough Draft

  • Imagine: You have your manuscript ready to go, but you realize you still need to make edits. You’ve read through it over a million times, but you can’t come up with any new ways to make it better because your brain has already maxed its capacity. That’s a tough situation to be in. You can’t think of any new ways to polish your masterpiece but it still needs to get to your editor and publisher on time. Here are our five tips to get past the rough draft hump.

    1. Utilize your Thesaurus
    Break out the dusty thesaurus or use your handy to come up with new ways to express your point. It doesn’t matter how strong of a vocabulary you think you have, there will be repetition in your writing. Imagine your thesaurus as a combative weapon to fight against redundancy and complacency. It works great and sparks imagination.

    2. Have a Friend Take a Look
    Friends can be a great source of support and positive criticism, as well as that much-needed kick to get you out of a rut. If they are a good enough friend then they will be able to honestly tell you what they think but will be able to deliver it in a productive way because they know how you think. This includes family, friends, mentors, peers – basically anyone that you believe will provide valuable feedback and new ideas.

    3. Change it Up
    Try to change the sentence structure of at least 3 sentences in your rough draft. It may spark a new idea for a continuation sentence after the alteration, or even the deletion or addition of entire paragraphs to be written in an entirely different way. This lets your artistic mind gain a new perspective on the piece by hearing it in a different tone. Maybe even throw in a little onomatopoeia to give some vocals to your words!

    4. Join a Writing Community
    Whether it be online or an actual writing center, by associating yourself with fellow writers you are able to get expert opinions and advice about where to go with your draft. This can be vital before submitting to your publisher because it could be the one opinion that may turn a mediocre piece of work into a masterpiece! You can never get too many opinions, as long as you maintain your own voice through it all.

    5. Step Back and Let it Breathe
    Sometimes the mind just needs time to let an idea churn. We all know those random “light bulbs” in our heads always go off at random opportune moments. Sometimes the best decision you can make is to do nothing. Just let it breathe as is and take a step back from the draft by focusing on another project. You never know, you may gain new inspiration and insight by venturing onto something else. It may end up enhancing your original piece to be the best representation of YOU!


  • Donna B, Mandi Konesni, and Hydrawolf like this
  • Donna B
    Donna B Thanks for these great tips I'm on the first edit now and this will help.
    December 23, 2014 - 1 likes this - Report
  • Hydrawolf
    Hydrawolf I'm doing step five now (and I tend to after anything I write) and I always take step three even further by rewriting it entirely in a new document side by side. Helps me to read, edit, and still be as creative as I was during the first draft as...  more
    December 23, 2014 - 2 like this - Report
  • Amberjack Publishing
    Amberjack Publishing I love your road analogy, Hydrawolf!
    December 30, 2014 - Report
  • Amberjack Publishing
    Amberjack Publishing Happy to help, Donna!
    December 30, 2014 - Report