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Monday, August 30, 2010

Love Your Darlings Before You Kill Them

I’ve been thinking a lot about first drafts lately. See, I’ve been working on the first draft of my first book for awhile now. I know the story. I like the story. I know the people in it and the beginning and the end and most of the stuff that comes between. But I’m having the darndest time just getting the draft done. Why? Because I’m a perfectionist. I’m not happy unless every word comes out perfect the first time. Sound crazy? Yeah, I know. I have issues.

Maybe I need my attitude tweaked a bit. Instead of always focusing on the stuff that bugs me, I should start loving all those little (or big) imperfections that pop up in my first drafts. Stories are kind of like children. They may come out with pimples and snaggle teeth and a million cowlicks, but we love them anyway, because they’re ours.

I’m slowly learning to love my spoiled, bratty, impudent first drafts who roll their eyes at me and refuse to clean their rooms. They’re mine. They could only have come from me. Braces, noxzema, boot camp – that’s what revision is for. Until then, let those first drafts come the way they are. Let them just be.

Originally posted August 30, 2010

12 comments:

sleye1 said...

No second drafts (or third, or...) 'til that darn first one is done. Hate that rule!

You just have to LOCK yourself into a deadline - it was the only thing that got my first draft done.

Sara B. Larson said...

You definitely have to just get that first draft out, be it close to perfect (ha ha! Ahem, sorry) or not. The important thing is to get your story down, out of your brain, on paper (or in the computer as the case may be). Then you can spend hours staring at one sentence trying to figure out how to fix it. Or is that just me?

Janiel Miller said...

Just you.
:)
Getting it down out of the brain is the best way, speaking as someone who is still doing that. It feels like that's the only way to be able to look truly objectively at it. Wish I could do the deadline-thing Scott was talking about. In any case, great post, Maegan!

Maegan Langer said...

Staring at one sentence for hours figuring out how to fix it . . . um, no Sara, definitely not just you ;)
Wow, guys, thanks for the encouragement! I honestly wasn't expecting to get such a response with this one little post.

Russo said...

Girl, this post is inspiring. Well done, my dear friend.

Janiel Miller said...

*sound of post striking a chord*

The Richardsons said...

This is totally a problem for me! I hate to even write a sentence down on paper if I think it's not perfect. I'm working on it, but it's hard to let go of psychosis such as this. I'm trying to do what Jamie Ford (Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet) does. He sits down each day, looks over what he wrote the day before, makes corrections, and then plows ahead. He makes it sound so easy, *sigh*

Justin and Maleah said...

Maegan, I really liked this.

Maegan Langer said...

Thanks, Maleah :)

Cassidy Wadsworth said...

Love this post! I'm looking at my first draft differently now :) Thanks!

William Kendall said...

First drafts show us no respect whatsoever, do they?

Maegan Langer said...

Ha! Tell me about it.