Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Deep, Dark Writing Confession: First Drafts are Hard

I have a confession. One that I don't know if I've ever heard a writer confess to.

I really struggle with writing first drafts.

There. I said it. I feel like 99.9999% of writers are saying "I love writing first drafts!" and groaning over editing, but I feel just the opposite. First drafts are my nemesis.

"Then why are you a writer, Lindzee?" you asked. Because I love telling stories.

I like the pre-writing stage. I love finding character photos and locations on pinterest and creating the setting and characters. I like outlining, although I struggle with feeling very uncreative during that stage. I never think my ideas are very good, but that's another post.

I also love the revision stage. I LOVE constructive criticism, because I know how to take others advice and use it to make my story better. I love hearing people say "I loved this, but if you changed this it would be so much cooler." I love watching this really icky first draft become this really awesome, polished revision. Sure, it's not all roses during editing. I do get to the if-I-have-to-read-this-scene-anymore-I'm-going-to-cry stage. And I don't like the tedious task of looking for overused words. But the nitty-gritty of tearing a story apart and putting it back together in a more logical way? That I enjoy.

First drafts, though? Writing them usually feels like pulling teeth.

I write best with a detailed outline. Without one, I get paralyzed mid-way through a book and it takes me months to get over that hump. But even with one, I really struggle to write a first draft. A lot of that is my own hangups and self-doubt. I feel like each word is more crappy than the rest. I feel like I suck as a writer and should just stop. I feel like this is the most cliche, overly wordy, boring thing I've ever written. I feel like no one will ever want to read this book. I go to outlandish lengths to procrastinate writing those new words.

Did I mention I'm a perfectionist? It's emotionally draining for me to just sit down and type out those words when I know they aren't my best. The best comes later, in editing. That is where the magic happens.

I do get that I-love-this-story-so-much feeling while writing, but it doesn't come easily. I do love writing when I can convince myself to stop worrying about quality and just enjoy the process. But it isn't easy for me to do that. I have to force myself to sit and just type. Usually it takes a good 30 minutes before I love the story enough to forget the mistakes I'll fix later. When I have a really detailed outline, like I did for WoBD, I can achieve the "I love writing" feeling much quicker, because I feel like I've already thought things out thoroughly. But 85% of the time, a first draft is the hardest part of the writing process for me.

I'm stuck at the mid-point in Miss Match. I didn't have a clear outline, and I feel like the story is awful and going nowhere and the characters are boring and I should just give up on this story. I won't. I can't. I know what it's like to push through that and have a story I'm proud of on the other end. But for me, first drafts are really really hard.

Am I the only writer out there who loves editing, but really has a hard time writing first drafts?

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