Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tip for Tuesday

Today's tip is:

You have my permission to write a first draft that is junk, garbage, dreck, drivel, and trash.

This is a lesson I had to learn. I spent too much time agonizing over the next word, wondering if I was getting the characterization down, worrying about the pacing, and pretty much anything else I could think of to worry about. My inner editor is a tyrant, flooding me with doubt and fear that kept me from writing with any speed at all.

I've since learned, after participating in NaNo, setting word count goals for myself, and throttling that inner editor during the first draft, that the first draft doesn't have to be, in fact, it shouldn't be the best writing we can do. After all, if the first draft is the best, where will we go on edits?

One writing phrase I really love is: You can't edit a blank page.

Just get the words down. You can always edit later.


  1. This is a great reminder for me today as I plow through my current rough draft. I always feel like I'm in a freefall as I write my first drafts. Like I can't get a grasp on anything, yet I'm speeding straight ahead. I felt this exact same way when I wrote Velvet and Willows. It's not until revisions that I get a true handle on the characters and the story. My rough drafts are truly train wrecks. But like you said....I can't edit a blank page! (and thankfully, I love revising)

  2. It's amazing how we're all so different, Erica! I don't like rewriting. So I try to get the basic plot and story mostly right the first time through. I don't think I'd ever be able to write 1K in 1hour! You guys amaze me! But my mind just doesn't work that way. I'm slower the first time through and found that then during my self-editing, I don't have as much work to do (at least until my editors send me their rewrites!)

  3. I absolutely agree. I have to finish a first draft fast or I'll never finish it.

  4. I love a good plow-through of the first draft. Of course, it'd be more fun if that's where the process could end =P

  5. I struggle with this. I'm in the process of analyzing how I've written my current book and improving on my process. I definitely made some big mistakes, but maybe they were mistakes I had to make in order to get to the story I finally arrived at. I definitely think my process will be different next time around.

  6. I had totally plateaued as a writer until I started doing this. That's when I began to finish manuscripts instead of just bouncing from idea to idea. Excellent advice.

  7. I love hearing how others do their writing and this is an excellent tip. I have a friend who recently admitted, "I think I'm a beginner, not a finisher." She's been writing for years, aspires to be a published novelist, but can't get beyond the first couple chapters of any ms. Each sentence has to be just right before she can move ahead and after a while the frustration kills her enthusiasm for the story.

    At the other end of the stick is Katie's "freefall". I think I sit somewhere in the middle. I want the words to be right the first time, but I also want to get the idea down on the page, so when the right words won't come I plow on anyway. Fortunately I enjoy revising (almost too much... I revise, tweak and polish endlessly). I'd like to find a compromise where the first draft doesn't require quite so much overhauling.

  8. I should've mentioned that I now have to have a fairly detailed outline to work from. If I don't, then I tend to wander and get lost and find myself with overwhelming edits.

    But without the spur of goal setting, I tend to dawdle, outline or not.