Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

The first draft

I’m taking another screenwriting course in the evenings, and this is a good one. One of the things the professor said is, “Your goal should be a shitty first draft.”

Now, I’ve always resisted the prevalent wisdom surrounding first drafts–namely, that you should just let the words pour out without editing them and worry about the editing in your second draft. Perhaps because I also edit for Sofawolf, I cannot completely shut off my internal editor, and so my first drafts end up being revised while I’m in the process of writing them. Occasionally, something will be in my head so fully formed that I can churn out a few pages, but by and large my first drafts run slow. It’s worth noting that in my Beginning Fiction workshop, the book we used by Koch said that there are other writers who work using that method.

The problem lately has been that I’m not sure where the story is going, and so I foodle endlessly with one paragraph or another, or I take a five minute break to play Scrabble, or I cook dinner. But recently, hearing our professor say that reminded me that that is a valid philosophy, and so I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to just let go. Even if I’m typing something and I think, ‘This is stupid,’ where previously I would have stopped, now I’m trying to say, ‘Okay, maybe it is, but let’s see where it’s going.’ I know some of it will get cut, but maybe by laying down more foundation for the story, I will have a better one left over when I’m done the editing.

If nothing else, it’s helped me get some writing under my belt, which has given me renewed confidence, which has been good all around. So the lesson here is that sometimes it helps to try out a different style, and see what results. You don’t have to go all the way, but mix it up a bit.

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