Okay so the idea for this post came to me the last time I got my hair styled. Kelli, my hair stylist has been doing my hair for some time now. She recently moved to a different shop and because I couldn’t find her, I kept going to the old one. No one seemed to understand what I wanted. Luckily, Kelli sent me a postcard telling me how to find her. Her shop isn’t too much further from me than the old one so I promptly set up an appointment.
Because I was so thrilled to have her do my hair again, I may have been a little giddy. I told her that I wanted something that would make me look 10 years younger and significantly thinner. She laughed at me and said, “You aren’t serious,” as she pointed to herself? “If I could do that, honey, don’t you think I would have done it for myself, by now?”
I assured her I was joking but it made me think about what I expect from myself with my writing. Even though I am not a perfectionist, I tend to expect perfection in my work. I write a scene and try to go forward but the next day I read what I’d written the day before and cringe. Then I revise and edit and then go on. That is when I need to stop because if I don’t, I will re-read that section again the next day along with what I added to it and revise again. It can be never ending. There comes a time when a writer needs to just set it aside and go on. Worry about editing later. Going forward will get the book done. Continuously editing the same section all the time will give you a polished beginning but nothing else.
First drafts are not meant to be perfect. It’s okay to have misspelled words, grammar errors, out of sequence scenes, not enough conflict, drab description, and even cardboard characters, as long as those things are corrected later. That’s why we revise and edit.
This year I’ve had the opportunity to critique with a couple of published authors. Just having had the chance to see their process from first spark of an idea through the whole writing process and editing has been enlightening. They have encouraged and said that it is better to have a crappy first draft than nothing at all. At least with the crappy first draft, you have something completed. It can then be revised.
Go ahead and read your favorite authors but don’t expect your first draft to live up to that standard. They don’t even live up to that standard. Their work goes through many edits. You can no more make it perfect the first time, than my hair stylist could style my hair and make me look like a new person. Granted I can’t take off 10 years but with work, I can lose the weight. With work, you can revise a crappy first draft and have something worth sending to a publisher. Once you do, you’ll feel like a new person.
WHAT HAVE I BEEN READING?
I’m currently reading ‘Wicked Appetite’ by Janet Evanovich. I’ve also been listening to lots of audio books while driving. ‘Cemetery Dance’, by Douglas and Child, ‘S is for Silence’ by Sue Grafton, and every other Evanovich book I can get my hands on. Her audio books are so entertaining, I am addicted. I spend so much time in my car, it’s a treat to be able to listen while I drive. Now I look forward to my commute each day. I highly recommend it.