The first draft is gonna be shit

I’m nearing completion on my novel revision for Cheshire Moon (which is why my updates are so sporadic), and I’m feeling pretty good about the current state of the work. It’s taken me a long time to realize that any work – short story, novel, screenplay, poem, dirty limerick, whatever – is not going to be anywhere near perfect upon completion. There’s a saying I always have in my head now while I work on a first draft that has helped me tremendously and the saying is this: The first draft is gonna be shit.

Just giving myself permission to write an abortion of a first draft has helped make me a better writer. Self-editing while you write a first draft is a recipe for disaster. It takes forever to get anywhere and it brews frustration; I’ve given up on entire stories because I didn’t feel like they were good enough, but how often is anyone going to turn out perfection on the first go around (just ask Barbara Bush whose first child grew up to say, “They misundestimated me.”)?

I think of the whole thing like building a house. You start with the frame (the plot), but once the frame is up, the house isn’t finished; it’s just a bunch of wood standing at attention and the whole thing isn’t fit to house a hobo. The very last thing you do is add the fancy curtains and the crochet throw pillows and it’s those items that turn the house into a home…at least for women and gay men.

It’s the same thing with any work of literature. It’s the changes and revisions you make after that frame is built that turn your words into a work of art. I’m hanging my curtains and tossing my throw pillows onto the sofa right now in my book and you know what?

Things are looking FABULOUS!

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~ by themoderntranscendentalist on November 25, 2011.

One Response to “The first draft is gonna be shit”

  1. I completely agree with this. One of the hardest things to do as a writer is giving myself permission to write a lousy rough draft. I have to keep reminding myself that this is why it’s called a ROUGH draft.

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