Log in


April 2017

Powered by LiveJournal.com

Thoughts on first-draft writing

Write it well, write it poorly, write it with margin notes and incomplete sentences; just get it down.

I take that "keep it simple" advice very seriously. :-)


That's very good advice. It helped me get through the first draft.

I must admit that dredging through that mess during the revision process is very hard--but hey, at least I have SOMETHING to work with.
Yeah, gotta slap that clay on the table before we can shape it. :-)
I agree 100% - not that my opinion is important. Whenever I agonize during the draft stage, the writing becomes a chore, the passion fades & the story suffers. I get frustrated, shut down & go to the beach (which is better, I suppose, than going to a bar). Better to get the draft 'finished' & pick up the pieces on the rewrite(s). Great advice Jenn.
Nothing dries up the Muse stream faster than too much second-guessing.


Good advice. :)

Thanks for the post. This is great advice that I try to live by, but it's definitely harder to follow than I'd like once I open that Word doc...
Yes, I have to keep reminding myself!
Yep, definitely simple is best. I find it also helps to not worry too much about where it's going. Have an idea, and let it take you. If you spend lots of time forcing the square peg into the round hole, you could wind up at a wall. Or be told you're "special", but not the good kind. :)

And that's my 25 cents worth.
Thank you! This is just what I needed to read :)
Me too ... I repeat it to myself often. :-)

Along the Same Lines

I agree. You have to go with the flow and avoid doing anything that dams the stream.

When I started writing my agent-hungry novel, I thought the story would flow from my brain, through my fingertips, and into a keyboard to rest in majesty on my screen. After realizing that I was too easily distracted by opportunities to format and edit, I rerouted the story through the tip of a pencil to rest, perhaps less majestically but in greater volume, on notebook paper, paper napkins, and remnant pieces of paper bags.

As I moved beyond that completed work, I got a laptop and developed greater discipline at the keyboard, but for a moment in time, the lowly pencil was the technology of high performance.

Re: Along the Same Lines

Whatever works, I always say. :-)

Re: Along the Same Lines

Hi, just to say that I have exactly the same problem as you did with the formatting/editing thing. What was recommended to me by a friend was www.etherpad.com (with which I have absolutely no affiliation) as you are typing plain text online, cannot format, and if you require the incentive of people looking over your shoulder, you can send others the link to have them watch (and chide) you in real time.

It is great that you're over this, however I thought it may be of some use if not to you, then to people who your post resonates with.

All the best.
So true. Along those lines is one of my favorite writing quotes ever: "Don't get it right, get it written."
Exactly. :-)
Wandered over here from Nathan Bransford's blog.

Thank you. Nearing the end of my first ever first draft and have comments such as "(XXXX transport device)" and "(People are not traffic lights! They do not automatically turn red)" inserted liberally through the text.

So pretty much needed to hear this.

Thanks again.
There'll be plenty of time to fix what needs fixing, I always tell myself.
This is something I try to remind myself - but there are days that no matter how much I struggle it doesn't seem to work. Must keep at it though.
I keep telling myself it doesn't have to be good the first time. Anne LaMott uses an even cruder expression to describe just how imperfect a first draft can be. :-)
Great advice! You can't work with something that isn't there yet. Anything can be edited, changed or added later, but the bare bones have to be there to support the rest of the flesh-editing can be the fun part. It's where a writer brings the 'bones' to life.
The first draft as a skeleton--I like it.
We've been trying to think this way lately, but it's difficult. Maybe it's because there are two of us co-writing. I know I put a little pressure on myself to put out something good so I'm not putting the weight solely on Jenn.

Maybe I need to print this out and tape it on my monitor.

- A
I would imagine co-writing could be difficult! But you don't have to show the other person your first draft, right? Sometimes the only way I can get a first draft down is to promise myself that nobody else will ever see it until it's "fixed."
Inertia is most definitely a cool thing. It's amazing how much it can work in your favor.

I like to ride the wave as long as possible up to the point where the Evil Editor Inside screams, "I simply must stop this now." Hit Save. Exit. Open up that other completed WIP and duck out of the way.
That's why I usually work on more than one project at a time. ;-)
Incomplete sentences. Got it.


I call it spewing.
Well, if you want to use the poetic term ... ;-D
The simplest advice is nearly always the best!
Back to basics, indeed!



Hear, Hear!

Re: :D



Draft with abandon!

Have trouble editing yourself as you go along? On a standard PC, turn the monitor off. On a laptop, drape a file folder over the screen... put your head down, look out the window, and don't look back

Re: Draft with abandon!

... and hope that your fingers are on the right keys! ;-)

Seriously, good tip.


Draft with abandon!

Have trouble editing yourself as you go along? On a standard PC, turn the monitor off. On a laptop, drape a file folder over the screen... put your head down, look out the window, and don't look back

Great advice

Thanks, Jennifer, for your first-draft tips.

Is it OK with you if I add your advice to the "Quotes on Writing" page of my blog? It's at http://scheirmad.wordpress.com/quote-of-the-day/ . FYI, I'm linking right back to you!

Re: Great advice

Sure! I see I'm in good company there!