We all write them.
Okay. Full disclosure. I just wrote, "We all right them," and had to delete and rewrite my first line. It was as if my brain wanted to help me prove my point.
Now I know the difference between write and right. I also know the difference between a sh%#@y first draft, a better second draft, and a good third draft. And I know how to keep going until one draft feels just right.
It took some time for me to get to this point. I wrote my first novel chapter by chapter -- rewriting and reworking each chapter many times before moving on. I didn't have the confidence to write a sh%#@y first draft. I thought I needed a really strong sense of every plot line, every character, every setting and sensory detail before I moved on.
I was wrong.
Now when I write a first draft, I look at it like dating. That first draft is just to get to know your characters. Having a main plot line and a few subplots helps, but even if you trash your plot, but you got to know your characters really well, that sh%#@y first draft served its purpose. If you know your characters, you can put them in any situation and their dialogue and reactions will ring true.
The second draft, well, that's sort of like an engagement. You're making plans together, testing the waters, maybe having a fight or two. You're adding tension to that relationship.
By the third draft you're a newlywed. Everything is all sparkly. Sigh.
Every draft after that adds the grit of little details. The toilet seat is up. Somebody has to take the dog out in the rain. There is no clean underwear.
When you finally reach the point in your manuscript marriage when everything feels just right, it's time to submit...
And start looking about for the next batch of characters to fall in love with.