Why I Hate Writing The First Draft

The first draft is a bit of a Marmite process, don’t you think? You either love writing it or, like me, you loathe it. I call myself a writer which is weird since I don’t like writing all that much. What I do love, however, is the editing. Turning the rough words into something better – tinkering, changing things about, questioning everything. It doesn’t matter whether it’s my own work that I’m editing or somebody else’s work, editing locks me in completely. And when I’m in the midst of it, even when I’m not at the computer, I’ll be thinking about it – what bits work, what bits don’t, and why.

That’s why I’m splitting my time between writing and editing other people’s work now. I’m loving freelancing as a story editor for literary agents as well as the Blue Pencil Agency.

Today is a writing day though. I have a rough plan, but the story isn’t fully formed yet. It’s scary, like driving in the dark when your lights don’t work and you can’t see the road ahead. I’m impatient to be home.

A confession: I’ve taken to setting the timer on my mobile phone for an hour at a time to force myself to stay put at my desk, to stop myself from giving in to my constant cravings for snacks and tea. The first 1,000 words of the day are usually fuelled by a round of toast. The next few hundred come courtesy of a couple of slices of cheese. And then thank goodness, it’s lunch time. An early lunch, but who cares? Everything gets better after lunch.

Maya Angelou sums up the whole creative process beautifully: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’…. And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”

So with that in mind I’m going back in – hopefully adding to my current 24,000 words. 24,000 distinctly un-Angelou words, but it’s a start, right?

 

  • Post by Fiona Mitchell, author of The Swap, published on 18th April 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton.

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7 thoughts on “Why I Hate Writing The First Draft

  1. I think that first draft is so hard because you have to imagine everything — characters, settings, scenes — without a script. You’re writing the script. Once you have a text, it creates the mind-movie, which you can tweak and perfect. Except for the happy occasions when something gifts you the mind-movie (and all you have to do is transcribe it), fresh imagining is hard work!

    Liked by 1 person

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