Thoughts on First Draft

Hemingway said it best in his unique and bluntly eloquent style, “All first drafts are shit”. From my point of view, Papa nailed it. I try never to read any portion of my first draft while I’m working on it lest I get discouraged and abandon the undertaking entirely. I just keep working on the story for no other reason than I want to know what happens and how it ends.

I keep a copy of my favorite Terry Pratchett quote on the wall next to my writing space. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” I start with a question for my protagonist, “How would you deal with this situation?” As the question is answered, I find myself asking, “Then what happens?” or “Why did you do that?” Slowly a tale develops until it reaches a point where I have no more questions.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? So why do I make the process so difficult? Because I want it to be perfect. An impossible goal I know, and yet the demon of perfection that dogs me every step of the way.  I am learning to fight the little bastard. He is a tenacious fiend, but I am steadfast in determination. Each day I start with a simple mantra: Just write the damned story.


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