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!

Rejuvenating with Writing

 It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that things have been a bit rough for a lot of people recently.  We’re all grasping at straws to find some hint of what used to be normal, while trying to grow and change at the same time. On the whole, it can get a bit exhausting. Sometimes you have to take a break from the glaring reality flashing in your face. Whether it’s gardening, Zoom calling your friends, or reading a book, you need something to rejuvenate your spirit. To keep you on the path towards a brighter future.

For the longest time, the only thing that fell into this category for me was reading. Then music joined the mix, but it’s a bit difficult to quietly practice a clarinet in an apartment complex. Especially when everyone is at home to hear your cringey attempts at relearning scales. Reading has been a comfort to me, but I’ve also found that writing has joined the ranks as well. When I write, that is. Writing can ebb and flow in my life to extreme degrees. So, when it is in my grasp, I snatch it up like a child catching a lightning bug. Cupped firmly-but delicately- in two hands, to see the glow of inspiration between fingers. 

Writing this blog has been a mixed bag for me right now. Some days, I can feel the ideas for future content flowing from me. But only when I’m in a location where writing said ideas down is an impossibility. Most days it feels like a chore, but one that I enjoy doing once I’m in the middle of it. I’m sure you have something in your life like that right now. 

But the nice thing about writing right now, despite my lack of inspiration, is time. Time to focus on research rabbit holes about 1920s archaeologists, or invent an underground network of spies. If you feel stuck in the rejuvenating hobby, try a new strategy. For me, this new strategy is research or character sheets. I can pull myself into parts of writing that normally won’t cross my mind until I’m in the thick of a writing session. Researching might not add words to the page, but it can add ideas to my mind that I can pluck out later when I’m stuck. Designing a new character might put their words on the page in a new way. It’s also a great way to learn about how your characters will interact differently with each of the characters in your novel.  

If you’re like me, staring at your lack of life progress in frustration, take time to rejuvenate. If you feel stuck, try that new strategy. Take a new look at another piece of it that will help the big picture. Rabbit holes of researching or learning about writing are some ways that I’ve kept my big picture. How will you help yours? What are you doing, or are wishing that you could do, to reignite your spirit? Let me know in the comments below. Stay safe out there everyone, and happy writing. 

 

10 Harry Potter Quotes That are Super Relatable

Since its publication, Harry Potter has been a touchstone of popular culture. Like many iconic stories, the quotes of Harry Potter are everywhere. From words of encouragement during dark times to sassy one-liners, this series has it all. These quotes are somehow extremely relatable in the real world despite a disappointing lack of magic. Here are five situations where the sentiment of these quotes ring true:

  1. When you decide to question instructions from your boss or teacher.
  1. When you don’t want to do the thing and your friends try to help you get out of it.
  1. Any introvert who just wants to chill out and read their book for the 10th time.
  1. That feeling when you’re so tired that a burn just kind of slips out. Goodbye filter, hello sass master.
  1. When it’s hour six of studying for finals with your friends and you’re beyond done.
  1. When someone’s being super unclear for the 90th time and you’re done.
  1. When someone’s trying to convince you to do something stupid and you can see the “bad idea” sign flashing over their head.
  1. When you’re procrastinating but know your adult responsibilities are lurking.
  1. When you accidentally let a secret slip to a gossipmonger.
  1. When someone’s acting like a jerk and you’re the only one who seems to care.

What is your favorite Harry Potter quote?  Let me know in the comments below! There are so many gems that it was difficult to narrow it down to this list. With a sassy character like Harry as the main character, the relatable quotes are endless. When was the last time you read these books? It might be time to crack open the series again to re-experience these awesome characters. Happy reading!