Think harsh sandpaper rough. Not the stuff you use for polishing and prettiness, but the stuff you use for taking the surface off things.
When I write first drafts, my sole aim is to take the surface off everything - my glorious but vaguer than vague daydreams about how the story might work, and all the odd layers of resistance that sit around in my head. I write furiously and rub all of that away, and I see if there's a story underneath.
I don't aim at anything even vaguely approximating perfection. I just aim at creating a big bunch of words that tell a story, even if they're a scruffy bunch of words that need transcribing and spell check and all sorts of prodding and pulling apart and therapy before I let anyone near them. It's far better to have a deeply flawed first draft than not to have one. Judy Blume once talked about being not a writer, but a rewriter, and that's very much me as well. All I'm doing in writing a first draft is creating clay, clay that I can sculpt and play with to my heart's content until a story that sings and makes sense and has every word in the right place finally emerges a long time later. Hopefully.
If you're like me, and you have to write an embarrassingly bad first draft in order to have one at all, the book to read for reassurance and incredibly sage advice is Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. It's a book I go back to over and over again. As Lamott says:
For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts...
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something - anything - down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft - you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft - you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or cramped or decayed or even, God help us, healthy.
(Bird by Bird, Anchor Books 1995, pp. 22, 25-26)
For those attempting first drafts right now, I wish you luck and give you lots of chocolate chip cookies to eat along the way (the big fat kind, chewy in the middle, and with extra big chocolate chips).
And you know those first draft things? I just finished one. They do end. Sometimes you just have to take a messy path to get there.