Last month I took two very large standardized tests, the ACT and the SAT. It’s been hectic, stressful, and for a short period of time I considered quitting. Looking back on it now, I compare this time to when I am working on a novel.
I studied for these tests, much like I brainstormed for my stories.
I did my best on the tests, exactly how I do my best when I am writing.
After receiving my results I felt a tad disappointed, which is usually how I feel after reading the first draft of any one of my books.
From this I’ve learned that first drafts of stories can be correlated to test scores. I’ve taken the ACT twice so far, and I’m signed up to take it again in less than a month away.
As I try and try again on this test, my scores have improved. As I rewrite and rewrite again different sections of my novel, they improve.
This all circles back to the fact that you have to start somewhere. It doesn’t matter if your first draft is terrible, because you can try again. You have your base now. You have your first ‘score’.
It’s okay if you feel disappointed after reading the draft because you didn’t exactly capture how you wanted your story to go, you have time to fix it.
So as I study for tests, and take tests, and wait anxiously for my scores, I always have to remind myself that as I try harder and study more, I will get better. And you will too. Everyone needs a first draft because after you go through the emotions of disappointment, you can get back on track, and improve.
Maybe your first draft will never see the light of day, like my ACT essay score. That’s fine. Because now you know where you started, and improvement begins after you’ve identified the problem.
Happy writing, reading, and taking standardized tests.