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View Full Version : I need a kick and someone to remind me "it's just a first draft"



Bubastes
01-19-2008, 08:39 PM
I scrapped a bunch of opening lines before I forced myself to keep moving. Someone please remind me that "it's just a first draft" and to keep writing no matter how much I think it sucks right now.

I'm on my sixth or seventh attempt at a novel and NEED to break the 15K word barrier. I'm even writing the first draft longhand so I can't hit Delete.

Thank you.

KTC
01-19-2008, 08:43 PM
**KICK**

I love kicking people. I hope you're down...because it's even more fun to kick them when they're down!

FIRST DRAFT is, IMHO, a ONE WAY STREET. It's the don't look back draft. Allow yourself to go forward without looking in the rearview during your first draft.

Williebee
01-19-2008, 08:45 PM
You're thinking too hard.

Just get the idea out of your head. "Make pretty" comes later.

Or, think about it this way -- You aren't really going to know how it ends, until you get the story told.

So, here's the challenge: 500 words today. Do it. Then give me 500 words tomorrow.
Are you off Monday? Give me 500 more then.

This is YOUR Thread. We expect progress reports at the end of each day.
We'll be waiting. And there will be prizes.

Did I mention that there will be prizes?

Now, get off the web and get to work.

:)

Bubastes
01-19-2008, 08:46 PM
FIRST DRAFT is, IMHO, a ONE WAY STREET. It's the don't look back draft. Allow yourself to go forward without looking in the rearview during your first draft.

Thanks for the reminder! I'm putting my finished draft pages in a binder as I finish them so that I can't go back and read them while I'm writing.

So many mind games we play on ourselves....

Birol
01-19-2008, 08:49 PM
It's okay to write crap.

joyce
01-19-2008, 09:17 PM
Just remember it's the first draft. Write all the crap you want because you can fix it in the edits. I know how you feel though. It's been easy for me to trash a WIP if I don't get beyond 20K. It seems once I get beyond that point the writing process becomes a bit easier. Once I get that many words invested in something I hate throwing it away. I feel like I've passed that danger zone of quitting. Good luck.:)

lfraser
01-20-2008, 01:23 AM
*KICK*

Now, please return the favour. I'm back in dithering mode myself.

Oh -- and I should add that when I got stuck, not exactly sure how to start my WIP, I just skipped the begining altogether and started writing a little farther on in the story. I still have three opening chapters - but I also have 110K words of story now. The beginning can wait.

WendyNYC
01-20-2008, 01:28 AM
*KICK*

Now, please return the favour. I'm back in dithering mode myself.

Oh -- and I should add that when I got stuck, not exactly sure how to start my WIP, I just skipped the begining altogether and started writing a little farther on in the story. I still have three opening chapters - but I also have 110K words of story now. The beginning can wait.


Add me to the list of ditherers. I'm getting bogged down in the details. Let's all kick each other.

Mel
01-20-2008, 01:37 AM
Think of your first draft as a very, very long outline.

Me, I need to stop dragging my feet, or rather fingers, and get back to writing so I can finish this one, then work on another one I'd like to finish.

Yeah, kick me, too.

Sophia
01-20-2008, 01:38 AM
Something you might find helps is The Manifesto of the Really Shitty First Draft (http://triciasullivan.livejournal.com/22286.html) by SF author Tricia Sullivan. :)

I find that thinking of the first draft as the 'zeroth draft' or 'the really shitty first draft' takes the pressure off me. The aim is just to get the words down. They can be hacked away to slowly get to the really good bits over the course of subsequent drafts. The initial draft is just getting it all onto the page, regardless of the order. Then you see what you have, and begin moulding it.

Best of luck with it. I hope you get past that 15K barrier!

melaniehoo
01-20-2008, 02:03 AM
Can you jump ahead a chapter? If you already know some things that will happen down the road you could skip the part that's got you stuck now and move forward.

I always remind myself that I can fix what doesn't exist. If you aren't writing anything you won't have anything to polish later.

Good luck!

Bubastes
01-20-2008, 02:07 AM
:kick: :kick: :kick:

This is fun! Thanks to everyone for the kicking and the encouragement. I'm almost done writing my third longhand page today (I write small and I use college-ruled paper, so I think it's between 250-300 words a page). Yay!

I like the term "zeroth draft." That takes even more of the pressure off.

HeronW
01-20-2008, 02:19 AM
Think of writing like a cat thinks of naps:
once is never enough,
the second nap may be better but don't let that stop you from the next one,
enjoy each for it's own time spent,
nothing is ever wasted!

Thrillride
01-20-2008, 04:10 AM
I scrapped a bunch of opening lines before I forced myself to keep moving. Someone please remind me that "it's just a first draft" and to keep writing no matter how much I think it sucks right now.

I'm on my sixth or seventh attempt at a novel and NEED to break the 15K word barrier. I'm even writing the first draft longhand so I can't hit Delete.

Thank you.

*sniff* And to think I was alone in this! So, if I gotta kick you - you gotta kick me. Tempting as that sounds, we could just go get a Starbucks and write it on eachother's foreheads. Less painful anyway.

RLB
01-20-2008, 04:31 AM
I've had to adopt the "don't look back" policy on my current WIP.

The last book I wrote, I spent ages the first time around on each sentence, trying to pick the perfect word and put something polished down, thinking I wouldn't have to change that much on draft two. Ha! Not only did the first draft take me forever to write, I still wound up changing and rewriting huge chunks of it on the second go-round.

On this WIP, I'm trying to throw the story down as quickly as possible. I'm leaving all the typos, mistakes and cliches (and horrible cliches; I'm typing whatever word or phrase pops into my mind first) in there just so I can keep moving forward, and it's showing in my daily word count!

So *kick* get your story out and start looking forward to the hours of editing fun ahead of you on draft two!

Thrillride
01-20-2008, 04:45 AM
I've had adopt the "don't look back" policy on my current WIP.

The last book I wrote, I spent ages the first time around on each sentence, trying to pick the perfect word and put something polished down, thinking I wouldn't have to change that much on draft two. Ha! Not only did the first draft take me forever to write, I still wound up changing and rewriting huge chunks of it on the second go-round.

On this WIP, I'm just trying to throw the story down as quickly as possible. I'm leaving all the typos, mistakes and cliches (and horrible cliches; I'm just typing whatever word or phrase pops into my mind first) in there just so I can keep moving forward, and it's showing in my daily word count!

So *kick* get your story out and start looking forward to the hours of editing fun ahead of you on draft two!

Thank you for posting this. I am trying to get through the first draft of my first novel (they're so damn looong!) and I, too, think I am so clever going through the chapters and over so that I can do "less" later. Obviously, this isn't always the case. I am going to adopt the "don't look back theory" as much as I can from now on. Although, I will admit, I can't help but look back one time to get a little change or two, LOL! Makes me feel better!:D

benbradley
01-20-2008, 04:59 AM
I scrapped a bunch of opening lines before I forced myself to keep moving. Someone please remind me that "it's just a first draft" and to keep writing no matter how much I think it sucks right now.

I'm on my sixth or seventh attempt at a novel and NEED to break the 15K word barrier. I'm even writing the first draft longhand so I can't hit Delete.

Thank you.
I could have used a a few good kicks last Novermber when I had signed up for NaNoWriMo. And I suppose I COULD get back to that thing.

Something you might find helps is The Manifesto of the Really Shitty First Draft (http://triciasullivan.livejournal.com/22286.html) by SF author Tricia Sullivan. :)

I find that thinking of the first draft as the 'zeroth draft' or 'the really shitty first draft' takes the pressure off me. The aim is just to get the words down.
Having used the C programming language, I already count starting from zero. I suppose I need to start on my -1th draft. But that Manifesto is, uh, interesting. Hard to imagine writing a computer program like that.

Can you jump ahead a chapter? If you already know some things that will happen down the road you could skip the part that's got you stuck now and move forward.

I always remind myself that I can fix what doesn't exist. If you aren't writing anything you won't have anything to polish later.

Good luck!
I've often heard "you can't polish a turd" (hey, that rhymes!), but that was about a different subject (audio recording), not writing. Maybe you CAN polish a turd if it's a written work of fiction.

akiwiguy
01-21-2008, 03:10 AM
I posted this on another thread recently, and I think it is absolutely fitting for this thread. This is purportedly an original draft by Hemmingway of the opening of The Sun Also Rises. In fact, the story goes that it was almost a final draft until someone noticed a problem or two!

This is a novel about a lady. Here name is Lady Ashley and when the story begins she is living in Paris and it is Spring. That should be a good setting for a romantic but highly moral story. As every one knows, Paris is a very romantic place. Spring in Paris is a very happy and romantic time. Autumn in Paris, although very beautiful, might give a note of sadness or melancholy that we shall try to keep out of this story. Lady Ashley was born Elizabeth Brett Murray. Her title comes from her second husband. She had divorced one husband for something or other, mutual consent; not until after he had put one of those noties in the papers stating that after this date he would not be responsible for any debt, etc. He was a Schotchman and found Brett much too expensive, especially as she had only married him to get rid of him and to get away from home. At present she had a legal separation from her second husband, who had the title, because he was a dipsomaniac, he having learned it in the North Sea commanding a minesweeper, Brett said.

I find it fascinating. It explains his famous quote "First drafts of anything are shit." It could almost be an outline, and the likes of this... She had divorced one husband for something or other, mutual consent; not until after he had put one of those noties in the papers stating that after this date he would not be responsible for any debt, etc. ... strikes one as a kind of placeholder to be fleshed out later.

I find it very hard to resist editing as I go, but it definitely makes one's work flat. Often I think it is an ego thing... it is really hard to let myself save something that looks so bad. But Hemmingway obviously never had a problem with it.

Bubastes
01-21-2008, 05:33 PM
I see a lot of kicking going on here!

Well, I wrote 6 1/2 longhand pages (about 1700 words) this past weekend. And I know it's a "zero draft" because I've already switched the POV from 3rd person to 1st and I'm not going back to match things up.

Whew! This is taking a bit of discipline because the anal-retentive side of me keeps telling me to fix the beginning. Nope, fix it in the rewrite, fix it in the rewrite.

juneafternoon
01-21-2008, 07:17 PM
I'm having the same problem, so I can't exactly yell at you. Though I will say that this thread is beginning to turn into an inspiration :D

Angelinity
01-21-2008, 08:04 PM
I scrapped a bunch of opening lines before I forced myself to keep moving. Someone please remind me that "it's just a first draft" and to keep writing no matter how much I think it sucks right now.

I'm on my sixth or seventh attempt at a novel and NEED to break the 15K word barrier. I'm even writing the first draft longhand so I can't hit Delete.

Thank you.

would you just RELAX!!!! sheeeshh.... listen, there's no audience as of yet. really. at this moment -- NOW -- you are writing for yourself. if you keep deleting 15K words, guess who's gonna read it?

No one.

Not one person.

Not even YOU.

Oh please. get over it. the 15k, that is....

Finni
01-22-2008, 03:01 AM
Hemingway said, "All first drafts are shit."

All of them. It doesn't matter how good you are, or how many times you've been published. Anything you write will be a pile of shit until you start the second draft. This is when we become alchemists and change shit into a rubbish pile. From there most of us...or some of us...change that rubbish into beauty. Its magic we have to practice. It’s not really magic; I just put that there to make it sound mysterious. It’s called hard work.
Writing a story is like climbing a mountain. First we have to walk the path to the mountain. The first draft is that path. If this makes you dread starting the first draft even more consider this: The view on this mountain is freakin amazing! To pass it up because you don't want to walk the path is...just madness!

kellysarah
01-22-2008, 06:25 PM
Hehe, I'm right there with you! I'll kick you if you kick me too! :)

MelodyO
01-22-2008, 08:22 PM
Just wanted to let you know how much this thread has helped me. I'm not a deleter - I'm a stare-at-the-empty-pager. If it's not going well, I just stop writing rather than dare to put crap down. Needless to say, that is not the way to finish a first draft.

So this week I've stopped using the thesaurus every second sentence to find the "perfect" word, stopped doing endless research during my writing time and just write stuff like "drug overdose info here", and stopped trying to put in all the angsty profound character development -- that can wait until the second go-round. So thanks for that! :)

Birol
01-22-2008, 08:34 PM
I wonder if it's possible to write while blindfolded?

Bubastes
01-22-2008, 08:35 PM
Didn't Jonathan Franzen do that?

Bubastes
01-23-2008, 06:00 PM
Who would've thought I could learn a writing lesson from my drum teacher?

At my most recent lesson, my teacher noticed that every time I messed up a pattern, I'd stop and start over. He told me to quit doing that because I was training myself to stop playing when I made a mistake, which is a very bad habit (especially in a performance situation). Now I'm forcing myself to keep playing even when I mess up and just make adjustments along the way.

Then I thought about how this applied to my writing. I've made a habit of, you guessed it, stopping and starting over on long pieces. So now when I get the urge to scrap my WIP, I need to think of the good habits I'm working on in my drum practice and find ways to carry them over to my writing practice. Cross-training is pretty darn neat.

Ms.Write
01-24-2008, 10:51 PM
The first draft is to get to know your characters AND your story. I just finished a really awful first draft (so bad, I couldn't even read it back), kept saying, this SUCKS. Yet it enabled me to get to know my story people much better and work out the plot.

I also wrote the first draft in long hand, then typed it into my computer.

Draft 2 is a total rewrite, and I just started today. Things are much better now because I know where I'm going and I know who's there.

So see your first draft as part of the process and YES, it's OK to write badly. Just get it out!!

Stew21
01-24-2008, 11:10 PM
I need this every now and then too. Sometimes I remember I have a write crap permission slip and sometimes I don't. I have to steel my resolve on occasion after I have an brief moment of "holy shit, what am I doing?"
Sometimes I get ahead of myself and think I have to do the draft a certain way, but really I just have to remember that I need to get the story down, the words out and that will give me something to work with in the next draft.
I have moments in first drafts that are brainstorms, huge sections of tell, whole chapters left out that I have to go back and fill in so the ones that follow it make sense.

I got through it. You can too!

Just yesterday on my new story I had some moments of feeling like I needed a different approach, needed to put more in, needed to grasp bigger portions of the story that the "right now words". I got frustrated.
today I've let it go and gotten back to just writing.

Kevin gave me the kick in the pants for that one.


SO here's your kick from me!

:KICK:


ooh, look at that my 9000th post was a kick in the ass! :D