When I first started writing, I didn't do much revising and/or editing. I felt pretty sure of my grammar and knew I'd said what I wanted to say, so when the first draft came to an end, I foolishly thought it was finished. Off it would go to some editor and it bounced back just as quickly.
It took the reading of several books on writing, some conferences and lastly, some common sense to convince me to not be in such a hurry. I hated to admit that once I'd written that first draft, I should do more to it. It's my nature to do things in a hurry. Maybe I should blame my mother. When I was a child, her rule was that I had to do whatever household chores she had lined up for me and then I could out to play or read my books. Of course, I learned to do my chores with lightning speed. I also came to realize that I'd better do a decent job or she'd make me do it over again.
I did finally understand that my first drafts needed to be set aside for a matter of days, or weeks, and then looked at again. Believe me, the first few times I did that, it shocked me to see all that could or should be done to make a better piece of writing.
I figured out that revisions and editing are as important as writing that first draft. Maybe more so.
Revision usually makes for a piece of writing that is more clear for the reader. A point can be made without rambling on for paragraphs. Editing catches all those passive verbs, misspelled words and more.
So, no, you don't have to get it right the first time. In fact, you won't get it right the first time. Some writers revise and edit multiple times. The trick here is to know when you've done enough and to stop.
Follow these steps in all your writing:
- Write the first draft
- Set it aside for a few days, even weeks
- Set it aside for a day or two
- Revise and edit once again