02 October 2019

Let Crappy First Drafts Lie

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Well, another month has passed and where am I on my third draft progress? Err...about the same place I was last month. Ok, ok, not exactly the same place! For my last IWSG post, I said I had written 3 pages for Chapter 27. So, good news...I currently just went onto page 11! So, obviously, words are happening. Just very slowly. And we will ignore my concerns that this chapter is turning out way too long and I'll probably have to split it but that will leave me with 30 chapters and I need them to be UNEVEN, hello??? *deep breath* Yes, ignoring that for now. 

I know one of the big reasons this chapter is taking forever is the fact that I don't often make myself just sit there and write it. Especially on a work day, I just kinda want to sit there watching TV and go to bed early. But another problem is that when I actually do sit down to write, I find it very difficult to actually get the words out. I know it's because I want those words to be perfect, and sometimes it's just hard to make it that way. Probably the worst thing I do is that I won't even write a sentence down until it's perfect in my head. So when perfection isn't happening, words aren't happening, either. 

But I think something kinda clicked. At one point while working on 27, I said to myself, "UGH. This feels so first drafty." Then I realized...well, it basically IS a first draft. While I'm working on the third draft of the novel as a whole, almost everything I've written past Chapter 19 has been brand spankin' new. Not rewritten, like everything before it, but completely new stuff that never even happened in the first two drafts. So the words I'm writing right now are essentially a first draft. And can you make a first draft perfect? HELL NO!

It's difficult to part with that idea of finishing this draft and basically having it ready to go, but I think if I keep clinging to it, I'll never even get to the end. I just have to put the words down and if they're kinda crappy, just let it be. I can always go back and fix it. I just have to look at everything before Chapter 19 to see how great things can turn out if you just keep working at it. But you can't fix what isn't there. And trying to make it perfect before it's written will just lead to a whole lot more waiting. 

So I'm plowing through this chapter. Even if I think some moments are illogical. If I think two characters should have gone deeper with a certain conversation but can't quite figure that out right now. If some moments were too drawn out, but others were rushed. I may not know how to fix certain things, but I'll at least know what needs to be fixed. And maybe some time and distance will make the figuring out much easier.

35 comments:

  1. It took me a long time - too long, really - to understand that perfection is not happening. No matter how many times I revise a story, it will never be perfect. But it will be better, definitely better. :)

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  2. I hope not trying to be perfect in the first draft helps. I’m a slow writer too and it helps to know the purpose of my chapter before I start. It still is slow going but I’m okay with that. I

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  3. Whoah, let me tell you something - my author has pubbed some of her stories but then she'll sit around thinking about them and going, "Nope, don't like that. Gotta improve it." So she'll tweak the story and then pub again. (self-pub) If, after a couple of weeks, she gets another brilliant (?) idea, she goes through the process again. Writing is HARD! But, like with me, she thinks it can also be kinda cool and fun, heh heh.

    Hang in there, you'll do great!

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  4. I feel like I could've written this post myself! I often find myself sitting there staring at the page, not moving, not typing, not doing anything until that sentence is just right. Literally, just yesterday my kid was like, "mum, what are you doing just staring at the ceiling like that? It's creepy!"

    If I catch myself doing it, I have to force myself to stop. I make myself type out at least part of the sentence I'm trying to write, even if it's just a few words. The second those are on paper, it makes the rest of the sentence much easier to finish. Good luck on your 3rd draft! Looking forward to reading the finished product! I've been working on my own novel for the same amount of time (since 2011), so...I totally feel ya!

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  5. I know what you mean. I've been working on a first draft and I've been writing kind of like people do when they attempt "spirit writing". I go as fast as my fingers will type and try not to overthink it. It's a disgusting mess, but I'm an editor. I fix things. It may take me 20 drafts, but it's how I work.

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  6. I struggle with that as well. I don't like throwing down crap but sometimes you have to.

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  7. First drafts always suck. I constantly remind myself of this fact and push on. For me, it's the only way to get it done. So will you. :)

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  8. You know what they say, you can't edit a blank page. If the first words are crap, oh well, they're there and now you can make them better.

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  9. I have a hard time letting those first draft chapters go sometimes. I know they're not right yet, but I don't know how to fix them. I end up with pages of notes on the side saying things like, "Ugh. This doesn't work yet. Figure something else out." But that's what the second (or third or fourth) drafts are for.

    Knowing what needs to be fixed is a Big Deal.

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  10. First drafts just have to exist! Breathe and just let the words come. You'll know what to fix during rewrites. Happy IWSG day :-)

    Ronel visiting and on co-hosting IWSG day Co-hosting, Flagship Content and Interesting Developments

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  11. I so relate to it being hard to write on a work day. I don't seem to have the energy to do more than watch tv by the time I get home.

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  12. I'd say write first, fix later. I do this all the time--get the two mixed up. :)

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  13. I think you're right in thinking get the first draft down and go back and fix later. I hear you on the evening writing thing too, some days my brain has just had it after work. Hope you have a productive month.

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  14. I hear ya! I'm working on a draft where the last 1/3 changed completely because of a small change in one character... it's been slow progress here too so you're not alone!! Good luck!

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  15. Sometimes you do just have to plow through the words, no matter how crappy they are. Because getting the words down on paper is sometimes necessary before the great ideas come along.

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  16. Rowling had that challenge with Order of the Phoenix. She had the book outlined in detail, but when it came time to actually write the chapters, she commented that it was taking more words to tell the story and one chapter kept turning into two chapter. That's why it's the longest book in the series.

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  17. I have to reread what I wrote prior to adding more words to my draft. And then it might take me an hour to feel the inspiration to write more. It's very frustrating. I keep telling myself, this isn't written in stone. I can change the words, the paragraphs, the entire plot if I so choose. So keep going it will click.

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  18. Turning the first draft into the last might be tough and time consuming, but it will be so-o-o satisfying in the end. Let that anticipation sustain you during the lengthy re-writes.

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  19. I hear you. Along with crappy second, third, and even more drafts. That's why it takes me so long to write a story. But I get there, finally.

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  20. Good luck plowing through this chapter, Sarah. Not so much fun as editing to me.But it must be done.

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  21. That's why I hand write my first drafts. My handwriting is messy, and it's not easy to "fix" so it helps me to plow on and keep moving forward.

    Best wishes for your continued progress.

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  22. I'm glad you were able to move past that block. I always teach my writing students that editing during the first draft stage can be crippling. As Anne Lamott said, "Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft."

    Good luck.

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  23. Keep it going! Use all the words!!

    Heather

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  24. Editing is where you can fix the crap. Just keep writing.

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  25. That's a good realization that what you've been writing is first draft material. It's just good to get it down on paper and then make it sparkle later.

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  26. I do the same thing. If I only have a small chunk of time to write, I will stare at the TV. I don't know why I can't just open a file and plunge in. But then as I read, it's the same reason you were pausing. I was trying to find the perfect words rather than just finding the words and polishing them later.

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  27. I tend want to fix as I go which slows me down and makes it harder for me to finish. I have been trying to not edit just write, doing so so with that. Happy IWSG!

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  28. I'm not good at plowing through. I write in circles, pushing forward then going back and making changes until I'm up to where I was before and scooting forward again. It's working for me. Not as fast as I'd like, but I've learned that I don't write nearly as well when I'm working fast.

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  29. I try not to fix things as I write since it slows me down. Instead, I keep a notebook next to me so I can jot down things I want to check.

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  30. Plow on! I know how hard that is with so many other easier endeavors to tackle, but you can do it.

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  31. You are not alone. We want everything to be perfect at the beginning. Doesn't work that way. Open the dam and let the words flow. You can go back and polish later. Jotting down notes as reminders of what needs to be fixed helps. Good luck!

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  32. I've had those moments where there are 1st draft scenes in 5th or 6th drafts. It's crazy!

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  33. Slow still counts. Keep plucking away!

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  34. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Sorry it took so long for me to reply; life gets hectic sometimes.
    Progress is progress. I'm not able to edit as I write so my first drafts are always scary-looking.
    You seem very aware of your process and that's a good thing. Just keep going. You're on your way.

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  35. It is always better to have something written, even if you feel its crap, than nothing at all! You can always edit it.

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