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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Cornish, lover of enlightenment, risk, fish & chips on Mevagissey pier, devoted globe trotter. 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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