Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Drafts

In the words of Anne Lamott, "Some days it just feels like you have to get out of your own way so that whatever it is that wants to be written can use you to write." I am a very visual person so writing for me is mentally envisioning the scene. My mind becomes entranced as I mentally watch the scene unfold in front of me. The story continues to build every time I mentally revisit the scene, with more details being filled in each time. By the time I actually have a chance to stop and write, the characters voices are screaming at me and it all just spills out. Well….at least that’s how it went for the first few chapters of my WIP, which I had the opportunity to stew over in my head for many months.

With a writing event like JulNoWriMo you have little time to think….you just write. You put your thoughts down on paper and continue. So I let my mind wander to find another corner of my vision, and then I was off and running. I didn’t reign myself in to stew on the ideas. I just typed, making my fingers move to capture (real-time), the ideas I explored. I typed with out abandon.

My husband had read the first few chapters of my WIP and was eagerly awaiting to see how the story continued. He asked me how it was going, so I decided to share with him what I had just written. As I read aloud I was horrified at how dreadful it sounded, it was almost incoherent. The story was choppy, it had stupefying descriptions, and was written out of sequence (this was intentional I wrote whatever came to me…which just happened to be an exchange between characters that I imagine would take place near the end). So needless to say, revisiting what I wrote at this stage of writing was a huge mistake. I was appalled at myself and immediately panicked.

I spent the next week obsessing over it. I wanted to destroy what I had written before everyone realized how bad my writing is. It is now July 15th, I have not written in days (and I was writing slowly before the incident). I’m about a week behind where I should be. And now, I kind of feel like I’ve cheated by taking a break to stew on some ideas and let them form more coherently. But I also know I need to get back on the proverbial saddle, which in this case happens to be the keyboard.

I’ve learned some valuables lessons so far during JulNoWriMo. First, I have to accept that the right words and sentences don’t always come pouring out. Second, I’ve learned not to look back, just keep moving forward. And lastly, I'm learning not to be too critical of myself for having a shitty first draft.

I am taking comfort in the words of Earnest Hemingway, "The first draft of anything is shit."

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