Thursday, October 22, 2009

Drafting Involves Will Power

I had my Night Writers meeting last night (with only two other people. I suppose the advertisement I sent out mixed up quite a few, since the time on it was wrong), and we discussed one of the most important things writers need to have: will power. We didn't discuss the word will power exactly, but one of the two writers I was talking with told us how she had problems trying to finish a novel. Her problem is not an uncommon problem. People who are not new to the writing world know that first drafts outright suck, that they're terrible, that if anyone saw our rough drafts we would be embarrassed for life. And because rough drafts suck, we have a hard time trying to plod through them because we don't like to write bad. We like to write good, and we can't do that with rough drafts. If we tried, we would never get our foundations laid.

Many writers start a rough draft and become OCD with going back to previous pages and fixing something. They find themselves so obsessed with trying to perfect their first drafts that they ultimately abandon the project altogether. I've had this problem on occasion, but it was never the reason why I never finished a draft. I never finished a draft because Witch Tourniquet is my first project, always has been, always will be (until it's published), and I've always found myself going back to it because of lack of beta readership. In any case, it's difficult to fix this problem. The woman who told me this during the Night Writers meeting knows it's a problem, knows that she just needs to get through it, but she can't.

How can one fix this problem? All I can tell you is that drafting takes will power. You have to suck it up, suck all that air in, and just write. Ignore all the words flowing out behind your fingers and concentrate on the words that have not yet flowed from your fingers. By doing this, you are essentially forgetting that what you're writing is total garbage. You've already accepted that it's total garbage, but it's unnecessary for you to acknowledge that while you're writing.

But to be honest, there is no set way in which to fix what seems like an unsolvable problem. Perhaps you as the OCD writer need to set a word count for yourself that you plan to meet everyday, even if it's just a 100 words. Because of my light course load at college (probably won't be the case second semester), I'm able to do 2,000 words a day. I've been working on Kairos Angel for 13 days, and I've been able to meet my 2,000 word a day goal everyday, something I have not been able to do since Witch Tourniquet. Writing this draft makes me cringe because I hate writing rough drafts. I like to write well, and when I can't write well, I have the tendency to scrap my work--but I know that isn't going to do anything for me, as rough drafts are supposed to be bad. They're simply the foundations you lay, such as artists sketching out what they want to draw before they commence with a finished piece (it's not pretty, but you should see what these artists produce at the end. Hard to believe they started out with something so sketchy and unrecognizable).

For the OCD writer who can't finish a piece because he or she keeps going back and fixing things, just stop. Just keep writing. Take a day or two and remind yourself constantly that rough drafts suck. By pounding this in your brains, it might be easier to get through that rough draft. Realize that writing's a process, that there will be many re-writes following.

1 comment:

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