I woke last night and wrote and rewrote endlessly the first line of my new novel. Yes, it is an important line, but it’s not important enough to stop me from writing a first draft of the first chapter.
I like the idea of place holders in fiction. That is, you write something–a sentence, a title, a paragraph, a joke, a piece of dialogue–knowing that this isn’t the best it can be, but also knowing that you’ll come back and fix it.
Place holders have an important function in the first draft. They let you get the story told, without fussing over the exact details. You get a sense of momentum, that you are moving forward. The story is the focus of the first draft, getting it down on paper, from first to last, opening scene to climax to denouement.
The function of the first draft is to find your story.
The function of the next few drafts is to find the best way to tell that story.
So, using place holders in the first draft makes perfect sense.