For me at least, the middle of the draft is a whirlwind of emotion.
On the one hand, I’m actually writing. Not thinking about writing, not talking about writing, not writing about writing—WRITING. And that’s huge, and awesome, particularly for me who has made a career out of doing nothing BUT not writing (a.k.a. doing nothing).
But I’m not necessarily writing well. And that’s okay! It’s a first draft, it’s going to go through tons of revision, it can change in so many ways.
However, if you let yourself wander down that path of thought too long, it starts to get you. Maybe I’m going to end up replacing that character, or cutting that scene, which would make the next scene unnecessary or radically different… And should I go back and change it now? I’ll still keep going, right, but first just a peek, just a paragraph—
Or I just finished a scene, and it… did not go great. It’s not blatantly horrible or anything, just… not good. Not something I’d want out in the world. But it might just be the seeds of something good…
So you just have to keep moving forward. Don’t look back. Don’t change things. Even if you messed up on the continuity, or the eye color, or said the wrong character’s name for that dialogue tag. Stop. Just leave it.
This is a lot harder than it sounds. I don’t know if it’s perfectionism, or some kind of arrogant feeling that unlike all other writers I would somehow write a perfect first draft, or (most likely of all) simple impatience for the final draft and agony over just how much I’ll have to change.
But I just have to keep going.
And, for some reason I really don’t want to poke at lest it burst, it’s really happening. I’m living in this terrified state of not doubting it, but constantly seeing doubts waiting in the corners of my eyes. It’s scary, and exciting, and… everything.
I just have to keep moving forward.
More details tomorrow!
I used to go back and re-read what I had just wrote and I would either be really depressed (because it was horrible) or intimidated (because it was good & I didn’t think I could keep it up). Once I adopted your mantra – keep going – everything improved!
It’s so hard though! 😛 That’s why I swear by outlining–because if I know where I have to go next, I can just keep barreling forward. But yes, just don’t look back. It’s like walking across a rope bridge–just get to the other side!
Thanks for commenting! 🙂
Yay! So happy for you! It is 100% okay for the first draft to be not good–in fact, it should. But it’s so important to get those words out in the first place. My CP calls it “Zero draft” or her “See Spot Run” draft. She goes through and gets the ideas out, the action, and finishes the story. Then she goes back and adds the depth and emotion and characters and world-building that make it come alive. Everyone is different! I too struggle with editing as I work, and sometimes I can get away with it, but other times I get too caught up in my perfectionism and it holds me back from writing. Glad to hear that you’re getting some words down, keep it up 🙂
Thank you! I don’t know why there’s such a disconnect between the part of my mind that knows a first draft can be absolutely terrible, and the part of my mind that says, “Nope, stop right now, don’t go on.” When it’s just writing and storytelling and no pressure at all… The joys of creativity. 🙂
I’m glad to hear about her ‘layers’–because I will definitely need to go back and add in pretty much everything good.
Thank you so much for the comment!
Jaimie–so glad to hear you are terrified, as this means that you are breaking through “resistance”! I’m listening to an eye-opening little book “The War of Art”, recommended by my fellow mosaic students. Lets break through our fears and create!
I read that book a couple months ago! So many creativity books say the same things–fight through the fear and doubt, just get to the end–so finally that’s what I’m doing. 🙂
And good luck with your creating–although I already know you’re amazing.
Thanks for the comment! 😀