How many short stories, novels or other writing projects have you started then abandoned along the way? If you’re like most writers, there are bound to be at least a few. Maybe the story didn’t gel, or the piece lost focus, or you lost faith in the writing along the way. It happens.
There’s a secret to finishing more of what you start. It’s a simple one, and I’m going to share it with you. See, writing is a left-brained task. The dreamer lives, plays and makes mud pies there. Revising is a right-brained task. The editor lives there, dots all the I’s, crosses all the T’s and pitches a fit about the mud tracked in on the floor. When these two clash in the middle of a first draft, writing projects suffer.
Repeat after me: First drafts are supposed to be fun. They are meant to be messy and chaotic. That first draft lets you play with ideas, test out language and phrases, see what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes there will be more mess and mayhem than anything the editor views as productive, but that’s okay. It’s all part of the process.
In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott writes:
“Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it.”
Which brings us to the secret of finishing more first drafts: Don’t. Look. Back.
When you begin writing, forge ahead and don’t worry about the previous pages. Keep the momentum going and figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it. There will be time to come back and make repairs when the dreaming is done.
- Even Jefferson had second drafts (scottberkun.com)
- Three Tips on Writing From Stephen King and Anne Lamott (gauravonomics.com)