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The 5-Draft Method To Writing A Best-Selling Book

Jeff Goins
Jul 7, 2017 · 5 min read

The most successful creative people are also the most disciplined.

If you have a project you want to share with the world, chances are it’s going to take more of you than you want to give. It might break you and cause you to scream. But in the end, you will be better for it. And it will be worth it. Here are the five drafts I use in any project, product, or book I create (including my latest best-seller The Art of Work):

Draft #1: The Junk Draft

This is your first try, what my friend Marion calls the “vomit draft.” It’s where you get all your ideas on paper or screen or whatever. It’s where you dream big and swing for the fences.

Lesson: Your dreams must be bigger than your doubts.

Draft #2: The Structure Draft

This is where you look at the structure of your project. Does the story flow? Is the argument cohesive and consistent? Will people look at it and see something that resembles some kind of order?

Lesson: Before you can make it pretty, you have to make it work.

Draft #3: The Rough Draft

This is the point at which you have an actual manuscript, something you can legitimately call a “work-in-progress.”

Lesson: Excellence takes longer than we want.

Draft #4: The Surgery Draft

At this point, you need to start slicing and dicing, cutting your content down to its most essential message. You’ve gone through enough edits that you’ve added things, beautiful things. Unnecessary things. Distracting things.

Lesson: The simplest version of a book is the best.

Draft #5: The Last Draft

This is when you go through your work and try to tweak the parts that could be better, where you make sure there are no loose ends or dangling parts that don’t make sense or resolve.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” — Leonardo da Vinci

You will never have a “final” draft. Your work will never be done, not completely. However, there comes a point when you must decide to release an imperfect creation into the world — or not.

Lesson: Your work is never complete. But at some point you must decide to finish, anyway.

What comes next

What do you do after you finish writing this book?

What makes a writer is not the book deal or a platform. It’s the writing. Just the writing.

So get on with it.

More on the writing process

Of course, this is just the overall process. For more on the actual writing process, as well as what to do once you have the book written, check out the following articles:

Call to Action

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Jeff Goins

Written by

Writer. Speaker. Entrepreneur. Father of two & husband to Ashley. Author of 5 books, including Real Artists Don’t Starve (order:

The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.