Before I begin, Pure Grace (My Unicorn Has Wings) is doing a frabjous giveaway. Don’t you dare enter it. This, among other things, is what she’s giving away.
But you’re not entering it, remember? So I can. Oh, scrap that. Tick tock, tick tock!!! The arena’s a clock!!! The giveaway lasts for one week, so don’t delay! Or do. I don’t mind.
This is a slightly sticky subject. The first drafts, I mean. Well, in all honesty, boxes and maths are pretty sticky, too. But that’s beside the point.
(I will get to that point, eventually.)
We hear a lot of formulaic quips about writing. You know. You have to write 1 million words before anything sounds good. Don’t start until you’re thirty, or you haven’t had enough life experience. Your first draft will suck.
Hang on. My first draft that I’ve screamed over for months is suckish?
I think most of us formally disregard the writing-before-you’re-thirty one. I know more teen writers than I can poke a stick at, and some of them are published, too. Doing pretty well, too. Doesn’t that just knock the whole saying on the head with an iron hammer?
And sayings in general? The whole do-this-and-it-will-work approach? Hands up if you’ve written 1 million words. Or had a lousy first draft that you weren’t even proud of for a second when you finished, and then became a NYT bestseller because you did all these things.
I think people get stuck in boxes of mathematics formulas for writing. It doesn’t work. I tried to write an equation for a plot hole once, and I couldn’t. Every body writes differently, and just like no two people are the same, I think it would be pretty hard to find two same writing methods.
So when it comes to first drafts, do we have to say that they’re going to “suck?” I hate saying that anything I do is pathetic. I mean, if I’m going to put that much effort into a project, and tear my hair out over plot gaps and character deformities, I want to be proud of what comes out. I want to have an affinity to this book. I don’t want to say, “I’m writing a book, and it’s going to be really lousy!” That is murder to my self esteem.
I know this saying really helps a lot of people feel freer. It makes me feel trapped. Basically, that point I mentioned earlier? Don’t get stuck in a box of equations. Don’t get taped up in algebraic literature. Don’t feel like you have to write badly, because that’s the way it works. If you just accept that it’s not going to be very good, chances are, it won’t. Of course, there are very few things in this world that wouldn’t be better with an edit or second try. That’s not the point (the one I keep losing.) Feel free to write a beautiful, talented first draft, and then worry about its deficiencies later. Feel free to write in whatever way works for you.