Most days, I love a first draft. The blank page stretched before me, waiting for words to brighten the page. Full of vast potential, and a ridiculous thrill to see which direction the story heads.
Of course, that blank page narrows down to the blinking cursor, a brick wall standing in the way of one sentence and the next. Writers spend many, many, many moments staring at that blinking brick wall.
As a pantser, someone who writes from the hip and doesn’t plan out a plot, there is nothing like the thrill of writing the unknown. As a pantser there is nothing like having no clue where the friggin story is supposed to go. I’ve found I live in both these planes at the same time.
I love being in the middle of a story and having to figure out the plot. At the same time I hate it. I want to know where it is going and hate that stall. Yet, when I finish, I always look back at that unknown phase with fondness.
It’s where the creativity flows. The story shifts in different directions and I can play with the characters in different scenarios. There’s nothing quite like that creative liberty, except when one is trying desperately figure out which path of fifty to choose!
There are times when I want to read my unfinished story, because I’ve got no clue and need my former self to have already written it. But each time I think that, I miss out on the spark of creating those words, that path, that journey.
I often switch to first drafts to cleanse the palate when editing bogs me down. In editing each sentence, heck, each word, is scrutinized. The strive for perfection exists and bears down on each page. A first draft has none of that. It’s a full on excuse to write crap. To leave notes in the manuscript (describe later), to overload adverbs and clichés. It’s all about getting the foundation on, editing is for sanding down the bumpy walls.
Nothing beats the freshness of a first draft. Free of any problematic areas or issues. It’s gold in its newborn stage. The beating comes later, as the writer has to edit out said problem areas.
So here’s to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo this month, myself included. Embrace your first draft. May this month be filled more with the love of the first draft, rather than the hate.