Hello, my name is Josh, and I am a first-draft-aholic. What is a first-draft-aholic you might ask? Well, first let me tell you it’s an actual thing—I know because I just made it up—and second that it’s an extremely hard thing to get over--I know because I’m fighting it as I’m writing this post.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “write until it’s done.” Well, duh, of course you’re going to write until it’s done, what would be the point otherwise? The real meaning of this phrase didn’t hit home, however, until I was reading a bunch of blogs about writing and BAM it hit me.
I always thought that phrase was talking about writing until your were satisfied with the story--that it was actually “finished”—polished and ready to be consumed by the masses. It never occurred to me that a project could technically be “done” and still not be “finished.” Have I lost you yet?
I have started many projects, had many great ideas that I knew once I started writing them they would just write themselves, that the words would just flow right out onto the page. And they did at first. But I would find myself typing a paragraph, hell, a sentence, and then spending several minutes looking at it, trying to figure out a better way to say it. Trying to make it perfect. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted on Thesaurs.com…
The squiggly red line was light a Stop Sign, which I absolutely could not run.
Sure, you want to spell words right, make sure your “the” doesn’t look like “thr”, but all that correction takes time and that is time better spent in creation…not deletion.
The same goes for the dreaded “Backspace Key”. I’m pretty sure I’m driving myself insane while typing this, because I’m typing about not hitting the backspace key, thinking about not hitting the backspace key, and for the love of God keep hitting the backspace key! It is one of my biggest issues with writing my first drafts, and I think that it’s actually prevented me from finishing quiet a number of times.
Hitting the backspace key—for me anyway—stops the flow, it puts little speed bumps in the journey from your brain, through the fingers, to the screen and it’s a frustratingly hard habit to break. I’ve found that more often than not when I break that flow with “spell check” or hitting the Backspace Key, things start to go south. That’s when the words stop being story and start just being words, and when the story stops. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been twenty or thirty thousand words into a story and stopped by the words. The words are actually causing writers block!
My biggest problem is trying to make the First Draft the Final draft. A first draft that doesn’t have any mistakes and where everything fits together like a perfect little puzzle. But that’s not how stories form is it? Recently I’ve read blog post by Peter Clines, “Writing is Rewriting. And Then Stopping”, in it, he wrote “The 1st Draft—This is the ‘get it done’ stage…” He goes onto write that it usually takes him about 6 drafts before he feels the book is ready to go off to the editor, and even then it needs work. So if Peter Clines can write crap on his first go-around, why can’t I?
First drafts don’t need to be pretty; they don’t need to have all the right words, hell they don’t even really have to make complete sense, they just need to be done. You don’t polish your silver until its clean, so why would you polish a book while you’re writing it? It’s having the STORY out and put on paper that matters, all the spell checking and backspacing and making sentences make sense comes after.
Now you might say, well yea, that’s easy enough, you’ve been doing that for years. Well, not for me it isn’t, in fact, I’m trying this method, for the first time ever, with Beast and my daily word counts have almost tripled. They’re horrible words and most will have to be changed or taken out later, but that doesn’t matter. Only the story matters.
I hope to have my first draft done by Mid-March, but having never done this kind of writing before; my estimates are mostly likely going to be off. But so far I’m am really enjoying this kind of writing, I feel more relaxed than ever before while writing and that makes the words flow that much faster.
So for now I’m just writing, and I’m trying my damnedest to leave the editing until later.
My new project note is this:
“Finish the story and then make it good.”
…and now I going to edit the crap out of this so I can post!