A Writer Versus Her First Draft

When I first pinned the title “writer” to my metaphorical name tag, I was a bit skeptical of its legitimacy. I’m sure that I fell under the writing bucket. But was I a writer? Does it even count if you’ve never finished something? Most of these questions sprouted every time I began a new project. Exciting at first, sure. But after a while, it looks like a bunch of drivel in black and white that I can do nothing about. This is when I want to rip my writing badge off me and stalk off to find a new creative outlet. After a few years of grumbling about it, I realized my issue. The same issue that I know other writers face. The dreaded first draft.

I have always heard that it’s okay if the first draft is not great. The point of a first draft, after all, is to get the story out of your brain and onto paper. An already difficult feat without throwing the pressure of making every line perfect. This is where my issues come in. I am what many would call a “Type A” person. Within that “Type A” personality lies good old perfectionism. It’s no surprise that this seeps into my creative side also, especially for writing. I am often side-tracked when writing a story. I want every detail to be perfect and fact-checked, even in the first draft. It throws me off my rhythm and makes the creation of this first draft take forever. In fact, as I am writing this, I have never completed the first draft of a novel. The pressure for it to match the caliber of some of my favorite novels is immense. Enough for me to put my tail between my legs and throw out another prospective story.

Believe it or not, I know that this is an idiotic thing to do. It’s scary to write yes, but why would I ever think that my favorite stories were perfect in their first form? To be honest, I’m not sure. It could be something I heard in English class. Or I never let go of my childlike wonder of books. Younger Emily always imagined that Rick Riordan created well-crafted stories without any editing. I have a tendency to romanticize how creative things get made, especially novels. It took awhile for me to move from the perspective of a reader to the author peering at the creation process. One of the reasons I started this blog was to give myself more motivation to do that. If I challenge myself to talk about writing every-other week, that will help me when I sit down with a story! Right?

So far, this strategy has not played out. Outside sources like COVID and life “adventures” have made it hard for me to sit down and write outside of this blog. I’m not sure if this blog or my studies of writing will help me inch up the first draft mountain. But this uncertainty will not prevent me from taking NaNoWriMo 2020 head on! I already decided at the end of last year’s challenge that I will push myself even more this year. Who knows, I may even hit a new personal record! If you’re in the same struggle boat as me, try taking on a challenge like NaNoWriMo. I’ve gotten much more confident in my skills in the two years that I’ve tried to complete it. Each year I get a drive to do better, and even hit that crazy word count goal. If I do, then I can finally say I’ve written a first draft. 

What are your thoughts on first drafts? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the frustrations that come with them? Let me know in the comments down below! I appreciate any time y’all respond and give me advice. It’s helped me so much with this blog, and with my writing! I can’t wait to see what y’all say.  Also, please share any stories you have about the draft-writing process! I’d love to hear how y’all climbed up the first-draft mountain. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!

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