Things aren't going as fast as I'd hoped with my current WIP. Ah yes, so this is where most of you say “Eat your words! It takes three months to finish your first drafts, I. Think. Not.”
Well, who knows, but for those of you keeping track, I am just past the half way mark for the time, and just under the halfway mark for the actual novel. This would seem to be a recipe for disaster, but writing is a funny business, and I suspect that I’ll catch my 18th wind here any day now. Why do I sound so confident? Because I’ve been here before.
So that makes it easy, right?
Umm, no. Not at all. In fact, last week, I’d have told you that there was no way on God’s green Earth that I would finish this book this millennium let alone the next six to eight weeks. So what changed?
Are you ready for this? Whenever I write a rough draft there is this thing that happens: I want the novel to be awesome in the first draft. No really, I feel like the more I write, the more incredible my first draft should be. I feel like I've gotten better, and at some point in my life my first drafts will be ready for prime time. As in, I'll just slap them together and throw them back out into the world, because I'll be a great writer, so my first drafts will also be awesome.
I’ll warn you now: this way lies madness.
Let me be frank: My first draft sucks. All first drafts suck. But it usually takes me about 35K words before I can go through the week of moaning before I suck it up and start to move on. This time it took a little longer (two weeks for those of you keeping count), but the end result is the same: I give myself permission to have a crummy, sucky, I’d-rather-lick-the-bottom-of-my-shoes-after-running-around-the-duck-pond first draft. That is to say, I follow Maureen Johnsons’ Permission to suck video. If you haven’t seen it, go HERE and watch it now. First drafts are terrible. As in they are so awful that there is nothing worse.
The hard part about this, is that we are writers and we want our writing to be awesome. When it isn’t we start to think that the reason is because we suck. Nope! That’s not the case. Every first draft is an opportunity to stink up the literary canals with hideousness. As a writer, your job isn’t just to write a first draft, it’s to turn the first draft into awesomeness. That means editing and revision. In the mean time, write something. It won’t be pretty, but a crap draft is a billion times better than no draft.
Say it with me people: First Drafts Suck.
And of course, the only way to write the stupid thing is to give myself permission for it to suck. Recognize that it’s going to be so bad I’ll probably have to rewrite the whole thing (and boy-howdy, this one is going to need more spit shine than all the shoes in the Navy!). Which is to say, it ain’t easy, so cut yourself some slack and write that hideous first draft.**
**I think it’s important to note that not everyone has the same process, and pretty much mine is to rewrite the whole effing book, so if that doesn’t work for you, find something else. This, however, is how I write. As in, the only books that have “worked” for me were written like this.