Tuesday Writing Tip #1
(This will be a weekly feature. Check back next Tuesday for tip #2)
The first draft of everything is shit.
It is impossible to get it right the first time. This is a fact. It also something that most writers try to bypass. Myself included. We want to write it perfectly the first time, but here's the problem: First drafts are rarely perfect. Ever. But that's okay. Writing isn't like brain surgery, where we HAVE to get it right the first time. Thank goodness.
The first draft is your chance to try new things and to make mistakes. Yes, mistakes. It's okay. I promise. We need to remember that it is a FIRST draft and not a FINAL draft. The sooner we embrace that, perhaps the sooner we can get our darn book written. Stop getting hung up on the way something should "be" and just write. Get those words and ideas down.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott it states: "A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up."
All we're supposed to be doing at this point in the creative process is to get those words on the paper. It is a beginning step, a place to work from, a stepping stone. If we lose sight of that, it may take years and years to complete that novel, or worse yet, we may NEVER complete it. Give yourself permission to suck.
Back to Anne Lamott and first drafts:
"All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts. People tend to look at successful writers, writers who are getting their books published and maybe even doing well financially, and they think that they sit down at their desks every morning feeling like a million dollars, feeling great about who they are and how much talent they have and what a great story they have to tell; that they take in a few deep breaths, push back their sleeves, roll their necks a few times to get all the cricks out, and dive in, typing fully formed passages as fast as a court reporter. But this is just the fantasy of the uninitiated. I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts."
If you haven't added Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life to your writing library, I highly suggest that you do. It has some wonderful advice. It is my SECOND favorite book on the writing craft.