Writing Wednesdays is a series on writing tips and tricks that are published on Wednesdays. Not necessarily every Wednesday. But Wednesdays.
“The first draft of anything is shit” ~ Ernest Hemingway
So don’t feel too bad about your first drafts if they turn out unsatisfactory. They are meant to be raw and rough. Take it from a world-famous writer like Hemingway!
Accepting the unpolished nature of first drafts was one of the biggest challenges I faced as a writer. It’s still a challenge, actually. Just that I don’t find it as difficult as I did in the past. Even as I type this post, I can hear my inner editor trying to correct my writing. Oh, that description is inaccurate. That paragraph does not segue nicely with the preceding one. That sentence is too long and cumbersome.
Then I worked with an editor who told me that the point of first drafts is to just get the words out. Coalesce all those thoughts, ideas, and plans into a written whole. It doesn’t matter if that written whole is too unwieldy, too incoherent, too unfit to see the light of day. The polishing, shortening, and nip-tucking WILL be done. But only after I get those words out.
Understanding this was a critical step forward for me as a writer, because I found myself working faster after I cut down on agonizing over the best way to express myself as I write. I just keep reminding my inner editor to shut up until I am ready to edit. It’s not easy I tell you!
I also find it helpful to have a clear purpose for writing before I begin my first draft. You know that feeling of getting lost in your own words? That feeling of “what was I going to write about anyway, I don’t know where I am going with this?!” That sucky feeling causes my inner editor to go on red alert. I end up correcting and re-correcting myself every little step of the way. Having a clear purpose from the start helps the words flow out of my brain faster, even if they come out rubbish-y in raw form. Rubbish writing is still better than no writing at all; at least rubbish is something that I can work with.
Any other tips for first-drafting? My editor once told me about this writing app that works by automatically deleting everything you write if you hesitate a little too long. Whoa! Now that’s an extreme way of forcing those words out. Maybe I will try it someday …