Two ways to turn your lousy first draft into fundraising that sings

The most important admission any writer can ever make is this: My first draft always, always, always sucks.

It’s not just you. It’s me. And every other writer in the human race, from the worst writer of all time to the best. The difference between a good writer and a bad one is the good ones know their first drafts suck. They’re okay with that, because they know they’re going to revise those bad first drafts into great final drafts.

Here’s some great help from Jeff Goins, at How to Not Waste Your Words: The Secret to Writing a Crappy but Usable First Draft:

Once you write the terrible first draft, you can write a better second one, and an elegant third one, and so one. But you must start somewhere. As writer Anne Lamott says, “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.”

Goins suggests two ways to write a bad first draft that’s readily improvable:

  1. Pantsing. Just dump words on the page. You’ll eventually start to find where it needs to go.
  2. Planning. Start asking and answering questions about the piece you’re writing. Maybe build an outline. This way is usually easier than pantsing.

My method is usually #2. I start with an outline, then make the outline more and more detailed, until it turns into a piece of writing. Then I revise it more until it’s done.

The important thing, though, is to embrace the painful truth that your first draft is bad!


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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