I am surprised, although maybe I shouldn’t be, by how closely my experience with a second draft mirrors what I have read about in all the craft books I have explored. My first draft might as well be a bucket of vomit that I can throw out of the top window of the tallest tower before returning to the lectern, lit by a single candle, to write the story I actually wanted to write.
I guess that’s not fair. It’s also true that without the word vomit that was the first draft I could not have identified the themes and storylines I was looking for in order to make the story more clear and structured. People talk about plotting and pantsing, outlining and freestyling, but to me this process feels a bit like reading entrails. Out of the bloody, wet, tubular mess of my first draft I have drawn the future of my second draft, and it’s coming together so nicely.
Granted, it’s not coming together as quickly as I would like. I am finishing the ‘first act’ this week and will have about 25,000 words into the draft. I’ve been going to the library 2-3 times per week to write in the quiet of their study rooms and it is the most productive I have ever been in my young writing career. Still a long way from being finished with the draft by the end of the summer. I am hopeful though that I can continue this habit into the school year. The library is on my way home on the right side of the road, so pulling in two days a week to write for two hours should be an easy add into my routine.
What gives me hope is that my experience mirrors the experiences of so many others that have moved from a messy first draft to a second. If a first draft is pouring a bucket of legos onto the floor, the second draft is organizing them into categories so we can see what we want to work with. Right now I actually feel like I’m writing a book and that is so encouraging.
Based on my experience and the experiences of many others, if you are reading this and are trying to write your own story, I cannot recommend enough the idea of WRITE UNTIL IT’S DONE for your first draft. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, you’ll have let all the ideas out of your head so you can see them on the page, and you’ll feel like you have something to build from. Do not get bogged down by edits – just write. You’ll be surprised how much easier your next draft is when you do.