Feb 23, 2011

Writing Your First Draft


"To Be or Not to Be"
Famous words from Shakespeare that can carry a lot of personal meaning depending on who says them and in what situation.  I had the pleasure of reading a blog post by author Jill Kemerer called the “Joy of Round Two Revisions” in which she talks about her thoughts and method for working on a manuscript’s revision after you’ve written your first draft.
The process of revising a manuscript can be daunting in of itself, but it also got me thinking about the process of writing one’s first draft and the challenge of actually finishing it.  As a writer, you’ve got to make it through that first round before you can go on to the second one and that’s where Shakespeare’s words ring true because I’ve found that sometimes it can be downright scary!  Not that something like word count has the final say, but in the end it is a factor you’ll have to consider along with many others as it affects the type of genre you may try to market to like children, young adult, literary, etc. 
What I’ve found to be very important and I’m sure others will agree is the need to stop right in the middle of your nervousness and drop it!  Don’t worry about the word count, don’t worry about the genre, don’t you worry about anything else except the words in your head.  You’ve got a story inside you that wants to be told and since you’re at the beginning stages it’s imperative to baby those creative thought flows as much as possible.  Go ahead, relax a bit, sit down and begin let your fingers do the work as you write what comes out.  Sean Connery’s title character from the film “Finding Forrester,” has a really great piece of advice when he states, “you write your first draft with your heart and your second draft with you head,” and I’ve found that to be very true.  Your first draft is the time to have fun and go with the flow.  Your second draft will be the time when you can start to go back to analyze, critique, or change what you’ve written.
I know it sounds incredibly simple, but it’s sometimes the hardest habit to maintain.  When you’re working on your first draft, just write.  Don’t worry too much about your story length.  Don’t worry too much about the grammar, etc.  Just have fun and enjoy telling your story.  It’s often been said that part of the basis for being a good a writer is writing a lot and reading even more.  Am I perfect at this?  Of course not, but who is?  Just keep writing day in and day out and you’ll eventually get to where you want to go.  When all else fails, keep writing J
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with writing your first draft.