Writing a First Draft

Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly. – Joshua Wolf Shenk

This is the stage I’m on at the moment. I’ve written character plans, setting plans, and concluded with a pretty awful idea for a plot. I say “pretty awful” because I know my plot is terrible– wishy washy and not even remotely like how I imagine my novel turning out- and, unfortunately, I can’t think of any great way to fix it. The main reason for this is that I just want to write the damned thing- get it out of my head and on paper.

I was kind of resisting this at first- all my other attempts at “proper” writing have failed because I didn’t really have a clue where the story was going (which is a pretty huge flaw when you think about it). This time round, I’ve been planning extensively (as you can see from my blog posts)- and feeling pretty smug about that fact, if I’m honest- but still my plot outline doesn’t match the idea in my head. Conclusion: I’ve just got to write what’s in my head.

Of course, I’m excited about finally getting to write because I’ve only been writing fan-fiction recently and not anything properly “original”, and I’ve quite missed that. At the same time, I’m dreading it, this first draft, because I know it’s going to be bleedin’ awful. I’m probably going to finish it, read through it, and just want to quit already. The thing is, as the quote at the top says, you have to have the courage to write badly, because only by writing badly will you improve (she says hopefully!). I’m planning on getting this first draft done, and then getting my red pen and absolutely tearing it to shreds with criticism. And then re-drafting. And then criticizing. (Repeat x infinity!)

So that’s me. Anyone else on the same stage? I’ll still be posting as I write, but otherwise- see you on the other side!


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