Lasting Advice from Writers and Teachers #1

#1. The Shitty First Draft

I read Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird some twenty years ago, when I took to the writing life full time. The advantages of writing a shitty first draft recommended by Anne, lingered in my consciousness for years, yet I didn’t write one until I began my third novel last year.

Why not?

I was in a writer’s critique group for most of these years, and out of respect for my fellow writers I felt compelled to turn in a decent piece of work. However, many a well-polished page never made it into the published book. Time wasted? No. Craft learned? Hopefully.

It took me five years to write my first book Dream Chaser: Awakening and another five to complete Written in Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence, the first of a trilogy. At that rate, it would take me fifteen years to complete the trilogy! Time to speed up. I turned to the shitty first draft, and I wrote one in six weeks for Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence.  

I came to the page every day, terrified, forbidding myself to even glance upon what I wrote the day before. I shoved a sock in the mouth of that nasty little editor in my head, whispering, you’ll regret this. Like hell I will!

Then came the read back. OMG! I repent. What rubbish is this? When will I come to something I can use? My gut fell to the floor. I wallowed and wailed, but once I gained control of my emotions, I read the draft like a puzzle. I began to find bits of story gold here and there. I also spotted unnecessary storylines I might otherwise have chased down, writing them over and over, trying to fit them in.

I wrote three more drafts of Time Blade within ONE year, bringing the story to what I call ‘editor ready.’ I will publish Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence this fall, cutting my novel writing time from five years to one and a half.

YES to the shitty first draft!

Thank you Anne.   christinagreenaway.com

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Born in Mevagissey, a small fishing village on the coast of Cornwall, UK, Christina formed an early love for the mystical legends of that rugged land, and wrote little stories of her own. While at boarding school, Christina liked to spin the globe of the world in the library and imagine herself visiting those lands. Pursing this dream, she worked in advertising in London and New York, did some fashion modeling in Paris, and partnered in a frog farm in Costa Rica. In 2009 Christina published her first novel, "Dream Chaser—Awakening," followed by "Written in Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence," and most recently "Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence," the second book in the AJI series. "I write for the joy of discovery. An idea burns inside me and characters leap into my imagination. I turn their desires inside out to learn the truth that drives them. I publish to share that journey with others."

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Posted in Self Publishing, The Writing Life, Writers & Teachers

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