Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First Drafts

I wrote a lot in the last couple of weeks. Just about all day every day when I wasn’t busy with farm chores or walking to the post office to collect the mail or cooking.

And what I discovered yet again is the importance of first drafts. Of dumping any old rubbish down on the page – or screen. The quicker, the messier, the stupider, the better. Once something’s down I can fix it up, but I can’t fix a blank page.

Pausing to find the exact word or phrase or simile is counterproductive at this stage. I can do that later. In fact, the less censoring at this point, the richer the material will be. It’s hard. There’s such a strong urge to get it right, or at least neat and tidy or at least reasonable, first time around. It’s like unlearning all those lessons I learnt in school.

This is my experience anyway. I know some writers whose first drafts sit in their brains for ages and then by the time they see daylight they are pretty close to something decent. That’s not me. If I worked like that I’d find it would stifle the life out of my material.

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