Updated: Jul 15, 2020
Quote of the Week:
“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything good.”
Hello again lovelies! Welcome back to my blog. Things have really not gone at all like any of us have planned this year, have they? I'm sure you've all heard and read enough about how this year has just turned completely on its head, so I will not bore you with more of that. Rather, I will be discussing this week's topic of a different kind of struggle—the first draft!
Recently, I managed to complete the first draft of my current work-in-progress. Hurrah! Cheers and huzzah all around, of course, it is a truly thrilling thing to have the first draft done. It's also an overwhelming sense of relief mixed with misgivings. The part that follows the first draft is editing, the bane of every writer's existence. But that is a topic for another time. Instead, let's focus in on the first draft process.
The beginning of this year, I was incredibly optimistic about finishing my draft. I even posted about it to my social media, saying something along the lines of "only a few chapters left to go!" I received encouragement and felt wildly sure that I would finish that first draft by the end of the month. Sad to say, I did not. Nor did I finish the draft the next month. My writing stalled completely. The reason was simple: I decided to scrap my ending.
Oh, the horror! I had a rough outline of my original ideas, but near the end of the book I decided to cut out some significant plot detours I had originally added into the outline. These detours removed, my entire set-up for the end had to be completely overhauled. I was aghast at myself and floundering—badly. I attempted more than once to sit down and pound out an ending on the keyboard, to no avail. I didn't like how it kept coming out on the page. I hated it. It felt like it didn't match the rest of the book. It was clunky. It was non-cohesive. It was rough.
After several wasted months of hesitation, I was reminded of a bit of writing advice I had read sometime ago. Essentially, "the first draft of anything is ****" or "rubbish". The other name for a "first" draft is a "rough" draft. The entire point of a draft is simply to give voice to the idea. It is not to have a completely finished, polished, lovely little manuscript ready to go right away. Its entire existence is simply to exist.
The existence of the rough draft allows for the writer to have something to work with. Your ideas are now laid out upon a piece of paper, covered in messy notes, ink splotches, and questionable typos. But it's there! It's now out of your head and on the page, a place you can work on to improve your writing.
I struggled with the ending because I wanted it to be of the same quality as the rest of the book. But that was never going to happen. The new ending wasn't in the original outline, entire scenes were cut or changed, and characters were placed in entirely different positions. There was no possible way it would feel the same. I could not let myself hesitate any longer over a misguided sense of perfection. Furthermore, I needed it finished. So, I forced myself to write the agonizingly poor ending just so I could have something to work with. Now, I have a "base" or "rough" ending that I can edit and realign to make more sense with the rest of the book. Rough drafts are meant to be rough. That is the point of the draft. So, stop worrying! Forget about being perfect, you won't be. Just write it! The editing comes later.
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Word of the Week:
Incondite (adj) - badly put together; crude