Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Joy and Misery of the First Draft.

When people find out that I love to write books, one of their first questions tends to be "Where do you get your ideas?"

I would love to say that I am one of those tremendously organised individuals who has an 'Ideas Journal' or a day of the week set aside for 'Possible Plot Meditation' but the truth is that ideas are everywhere - it's a constant barrage of background noise inside your head; a stream of 'what if...?' and 'imagine if...' and 'maybe...'

Occasionally one of these little voices gains strength and speaks up a little louder than all the rest. It squashes the others down until it's all that you can hear and then you just have to write about it or go crazy! Erm...maybe that's just me.

Once you begin to write about it, it consumes you. It's feverish, that kind of writing - it flows out of your brain and onto the page (or the screen) at speed and in bursts of startling clarity. It's the most delicious feeling, to be caught up in that wave of creativity, surfing along its length and whooping with joy at simply being able to weave the story and follow the characters. 

Every wave, however, has to break and every so often I find myself sitting at my computer screen and staring at the keys, perplexed. The 3,000 words I wrote yesterday, or even the 10,000 I managed last week suddenly seem ridiculous, trivial...maybe even pathetic. The ability to add more or to see where the story could go is impossible and the temptation is to hit the delete button and start again - I've done that so many times. However, I've had an epiphany of sorts and I now realise what this is - this is part of the journey from forming the idea to writing 'The End': This is The First Draft. Even though a good 60-80% of this won't make it into the final cut (it tends to be back-story) it's still important in the grand scheme of 'getting-the-book-written'.

So, if you're one of those folk who has been writing constant first drafts and giving up when you hit the sandy shores of your idea then take my advice and next time, keep going. Even if you only manage a sentence today...well, it's a sentence more than you had yesterday and don't worry - the great thing about the 'writing and the sea' metaphor is that the tide will come in to rescue you again soon.

Best wishes.


  1. This is pretty much how I write as well. Like Nora Roberts says, and I truly believe it, 'I can't edit a blank page.'