After years of editing (and avoiding editing) Children of Guerra, it’s strange to be writing a first draft again. In some ways I love this part because it’s so freeing to be allowed to wander with the plot instead of feeling tied to what’s already on the page. But of course, in other ways it’s awful because it’s like being handed a ball of clay and being told to make something pretty. Where do you even start?
It’s easy to get paralyzed by the prospect of writing an entire book, especially after you’ve been at it for a little while and suddenly look back on what you have so far and think, Wow, this is crap.
But one of my writer friends reminded me the other day of a quote from Anne Lamott’s glorious book, Bird by Bird (see cover image below). There is no other book about writing that I love as much as this one. She touches on the concept of self-doubt so perfectly. It’s well worth the read for anyone who even dabbles in writing.
I could quote probably 100 lines I love, but the one that M mentioned to me was this (and I’m paraphrasing): The first draft is the down draft. You just get it down. Then you can come back and clean up your shitty first draft into an ok second draft later.
She says it a little more eloquently than that (though she does call them shitty first drafts), but you get my point. So this is my mantra these days: Get it down. And don’t pick at what’s down until it’s ALL down.
I will eat this elephant one bite at a time.
And try not to visualize that image.