Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The First Draft: Joy and Pain

The first draft. It can be agony or ecstasy to write. Some writers breeze through it, acknowledging they’ll return and tear it limb from limb in order to create a more “perfect” story. Other writers throw their best into the first draft and spend minimal time revising. Still others (I don’t know any of these people personally!) complete a first draft and, well, it’s their finished product with very minor tweaks.

The first draft is essential. Our stories can’t move forward without them. We don’t really know our characters until we’ve written it. Even then, we may go back and rewrite or remove so many parts our final product may no longer resemble that precious idea or outlandish plot that first set our heart on fire.

Most of you have written far more first drafts than I have. I completed my first novel in November and am closing in on completing my second one. I consider myself blessed to have finished even one. The sweat, the toil, the joy and the pain were all worth it.

I sat for years staring at blank pieces of paper or a blank computer screen waiting for those magical words to appear. It wasn’t until I forced myself to write daily (under penalty of death) that I made tangible progress. No longer would I wait for the words to appear, I would just write them. Hideous though they may be, those words were real; something tangible I could see and track over the month.

Now, I write at least 25,000 words per month. I set daily word count goals to keep me on task. I write whenever I have a moment free of work or children rushing around me. The pain comes from the work required to write a truly fantastic book. Revising and editing – those are the monsters that loom ahead of me now.

But the joy – the joy is in finishing the first draft, knowing I have written a book, that I have seen something to its end. Starting something, that’s no big deal. But writing THE END? It’s something so many people dream about and so few accomplish. All of us who call ourselves writers deserve to celebrate each time we complete that first draft.

Do you celebrate when you finish a first draft? Or do you jump right into a new story and save the celebrating for later?

1 comment:

  1. I've only finished one first draft. And I didn't celebrate because the end crept up on me. >_<

    Oh well. I'll celebrate the rewrite.