First Draftitis

I envy people who love to write first drafts. I do, I really do. Because I absolutely hate writing first drafts.

Now, I usually don’t like to use the word hate to describe my feelings because I think it’s a very powerful word. Just uttering the word “hate”, in my mind, calls up all kinds of dark forces and energies.

But I do hate writing first drafts. It’s like pulling teeth, but without the Novacaine. It’s like when you bump your elbow on something and you get that throbbing, electric shock of pain. It’s like someone pouring lemon juice over a paper cut.

Okay, perhaps, I’m going too far with the analogies. But, seriously, writing a first draft is painful for me. So painful, in fact, that I feel like I should join some kind of therapy group.

Hi, my name is Jenna Reynolds and I hate writing first drafts. I know I shouldn’t hate it, because hate is such a powerful word, but I do. I really do.

And everyone in the group, who would have the same malady, would say, “Hi Jenna, welcome to the group” and I would feel this warm, glowing feeling of belonging.

Because, you see, unlike some people, I can’t just breeze through my first draft.

Breezing is not what I’m doing when I write a first draft. It’s more like wheezing because I’m so amazed at the crap that I’m actually putting down on paper that I can barely breathe.

But you know what? I write those darn things. I work through my First Draftitis. I grit my teeth, I set my jaw, and I throw those crappy words down on the laptop screen.

The clichés, the trite phrases, the awkward sentences, the bland, boring dialogue, the flat characters, the less than evocative description.

Because, as someone said, you can’t fix a blank page.

And when that first draft is through, that’s when the fun begins.

Oh, yes. I love to revise, rewrite, rework and redo. That’s when I start to have fun. It’s hard work but that’s the part of writing I love the most.

It’s just getting through that first draft. And, well, it’s like with anything, I guess. Whether it’s writing a first draft or getting through a bad economy.

The only way out is through.


5 Responses to First Draftitis

  1. Digital Dame says:

    This post actually buoys my spirits, knowing other people are writing first drafts as bad (apparently) as mine 😉 It gives me hope that one day this incoherent (to my mind) mess might actually resemble something readable.

  2. Oh please. If any of you ever saw my first drafts of anything- (not that I would ever allow such a thing even over my dead body)you would all breathe the most incredible sighs of relief.

    In all seriousness, I understand exactly what you mean. Writing this particular WIP’s first draft was painful: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I couldn’t wait to get to the revision stage. And now that I am at the revision stage, (lost count on which number)I am aching to finish it and start something new. Yes…a first draft. Go figure.

  3. jennareynolds says:

    Digital Dame, I would be horribly embarrassed to share my first drafts with anyone. They resemble nothing more than a denuded skeleton. Bare of everything but the framework of a scene. Actually they’re more like some sort of cryptic language that only I can comprehend.

    There’s just enough words, structure, coherence in my first draft for me to say, yes, there is a story here somewhere, because yes, that pitiful line of dialogue actually means something more and that sketch of a setting will prove to be more substantial when I revise it.

    But despite all that I can look at my first draft and see its potential. I guess I’m like a parent, who in her heart, knows that her child is just plain ugly but loves him or her dearly anyway.

    Gypsy Scarlett, isn’t that amazing? I have that feeling too. As painful as first drafts are, I also get that thrill of excitement at the thought of taking on a new story. And a new first draft.

  4. Lori Devoti says:

    There are people who like writing first drafts? Are you sure?
    I build up dread for about every step of the process, honestly, but I always find revisions kind of fun. Doesn’t stop me from dreading it though…but first drafts…they are easier sometimes than others, but there is always some pain involved!

  5. jennareynolds says:

    Yep, I do know some people who actually like writing first drafts! I always want to check them to see if they have a fever. 🙂

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