Writing Life: First Drafts

I am no pro when it comes to writing. I have never published a book or worked in the industry to give any sort of founded advice. Having said that, I do consider myself a writer and with that come certain opinions and thoughts about the topic of writing in general. So, since I have been more interested in creating discussion posts for the blog lately, I’d like to introduce this new feature to talk about the writing life as well as updates on my very own work in progress – Arcadia!

Sharing your writing is always terrifying, no matter if you are a seasoned writer or a newbie. I’ve mentioned this a couple times, but the version of Arcadia that I am constantly uploading right now is only the first draft. Most writers wouldn’t do such a thing! They might show that draft to a trusted critique partner, but most likely they will polish it up beforehand. Quite a few people have called me brave for doing what I do, but I don’t think it’s any braver than sharing later versions. There’s a certain expectation that comes along with first drafts. The general advice is to just get the project done and fix whatever terrible mess you made later on in editing. But does that really work for everyone? Does it always have to be a bad first draft?

We are all different people, obviously, and therefore we also have different ways of writing. I know quite a few folks who have to plot everything meticulously before they can even start thinking about writing their chapters. I, on the other hand, need to just write whatever comes to mind with a rough idea of where I want the chapters to end. While so many people don’t share their unfinished/unpolished work, I need the affirmation and interest of my friends and sometimes random strangers on the internet to keep me motivated to write. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. It’s basically a general – you do you! Does that mean that I think my first draft is perfect? No! I am trying my best to make it a coherent story, but I still make mistakes. Some of them are small, others will cause a bit of problems later on, but that is what editing is for. It’s only normal to not get it perfectly right from the get go, however, I do have the hope that I won’t need a gazillion more drafts during the process of editing. I’d like to think that whatever I am putting out in the world now isn’t utter garbage!

Thinking back to my first finished story Break Up Buddy though, I know I did not care as much about how the first draft ended. And I needed that freedom for the story to be shitty! First of all, I wrote it during NaNoWriMo and I was determined to win. It was 2014 and my first time really participating. I got super competitive with myself in reaching the daily word count and that it was more important to me to get the story done rather than make it a good story in itself. That’s basically what that entire event is for and I loved it. I enjoyed participating so much, I met great people and I FINALLY got that story out of my head. It was an important step for me, but then I reread it all a couple months later and it was just terrible! (Utterly cringe-worthy for the most part to be exact) I never got through that process of editing it, simply because I had to change so much, I didn’t know how to handle it. That’s why I am now trying to get it “more right” on the first try than I did back then. I am taking time with the chapters and I know I will still need to work on it, but it won’t have to be an entirely different story to get done.

This is all just my personal experience. If you are someone who works better with not caring so much during the first draft – go you! We all work differently and shouldn’t be held to certain expectations or feel constrained by what others do or don’t do.

So, up to you! Are you more someone who just lets things happen and fixes them later, or do you prefer to do everything “right” from the beginning? Let’s talk!