Ernest Hemingway said ‘All first drafts are sh!t.”
This is true, and it will always be true. Why? Anything that is hewn out of pure thought is going to be rough! It is going to be rough, unpolished and be frustrating in some fashion. When it relates to the work of writing, you need to be prepared to confront those same rough, unpolished, frustrating things! Of which, will result in the next draft of the thing which started as a thought!
Where we as writers get in trouble is when we believe that we cannot get over how ‘rough’ the first draft is, and will be! When it comes out clumsy, dry and more wide than we thought.
Yet, this is also fine.
Yet, this is bound to occur.
Yet, you must keep going.
The Smooth Out is the dedication you will have to finishing what you have started! Completing what you began, and making sure you say what you meant to say before. In the immortal words of the impossibly talented Neil Gaiman: “Make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”
This is a question that I believe is at the heart of every writer. I believe this the infinite thing we all chase–often. It is the thing that we strive to capture a little bit a time. When we allow our minds to wander to the far off places, doing the far out things, we get more confidence in what we desire to write about!
Who doesn’t want that?
Who doesn’t want more confidence to write about what they want to write about and not just about what people think they should write about?
One of the best things that I love about writing is how your head will find from itself! Here is what I mean.
The more you begin to explore your own head, the more apt you are to keep exploring it. The more you explore, the more you want to. This is where you learn your personal writing patterns, schedules and where you want your niche is…and even if you want to change it.
Consider all the things that you do while you stretch out in your imagination as discovering what is behind a locked door. Your personal curiosity is a key! The bravery you have, that you muster, to uncover what was even hidden from yourself is what will propel you (and compel you in some cases) to keep writing.
To explore your own writing, and work on what would make your own writing better!
You have the key! Use them.
Give the doubt no mercy…there is no more room for it.
One of my mentors during my undergrad (shouts to Dr. Wall at UM-St. Louis), told us to make ‘make time for the mind.’ When she told me this, I thought it was odd, but it was the most rational thing she could have told me.
When you choose to make this time a thing, when you choose to make time to wonder when you wander, and wander when you wonder, you will be amazed with what you come across. When you make this a habit, you are stretching your imagination–you are allowing it to flex. You allow it to tumble. You allow it to fall over and under thoughts…and those thoughts no longer become foreign to you.
A writer’s imagination should never be foreign to them. There can be parts willing to be explored, but it should never be ‘foreign’ to them. The goal of accessing your imagination in a greater capacity so that it doesn’t become a foreign place. Think of your time of the mind as a type of housekeeping. The more apt you are to clean it, you know what is there, what isn’t there, and what needs to be there more often.
The most amusing thing that I hear often is that people would ‘love’ to step inside the head of a writer. I am not so sure they really want to do that. I am certain they don’t want to do that! I mean, why would they want to!
The head of a writer is crowded, loud, chaotic, and there is always music playing or a fire starting (Trust me, it’s true.)! Everything is everywhere! But, it is beautiful, terrifying, and I would not trade it for anything on the whole planet.
I have spoken about this before–chase a thought. This is crucial to unlocking your imagination, and being able to stretch it further than you thought it could or should go. Why would you not want to access more of what you know to be yours–or that you can master? Your imagination belongs to you, owned by you and is run by you.
It. Is. Yours.
Get comfortable chasing the thoughts that come. I call this: Chasing the Robin.
Here in the Midwest, birds are everywhere! Especially, robins and cardinals. Yet, robins are the most interesting to follow. They fly with determination, and focus, but when they land? When they land they hop around–they are unsure, but they know this is not the final resting place. Your thoughts work the same way–you could be on a determined path, focused and set. But you may deviate. It’s okay even if you DO deviate! That is part of the process–but don’t allow the deviation become a distraction.
Chase the Robin–you never know where it might take you.
What makes a draft so powerful is that it is the representation of your idea. These ideas you have pushed from your mind through your hands! You did it, you are doing it, you are drafting it.
There are three things that make a draft powerful.
CREATION. First drafts are messy. They are confusing! They are like cutting through a forest with a whole pocket knife! The process can be chaotic and scary. But there is joy there. What is the joy? Where is the joy? It comes from the face you began. Since you began, continue.
INSPIRATION. In creating of a new stories, in the creating of new people, there are no rules. You are able to pull from all experiences (real, imagined and reimaged) to create the world that you want. Don’t lose sight of that.
RESTART. Remember, writing is a process! Until you get everything out of you, there is no way to know what else is there. This is what second drafts are for! In order to add to what you want, to fix what you want, to see what could be there–the pages cannot be blank.
The blank pages are the enemy. Subdue them–ruthlessly.
I know the debate between traditional/physical books and e-books is always evolving.
I also know that the passion to write is independent of books and their formatting. Allow this post to be your reminder to what it is you want to do! Formatting, page counts, they will always be there. That is the trouble of the work. It is just what we have to deal with. The quicker you get used to that, the easier your time writing will be and become.
What I will tell you as a cardinal rule is this:
If you want something quick, make an e-book.
If you want to say a lot more, do a BOTH (a physical book and a e-book).
Giving your readers options allows you as the writer to broaden your fan base, expose them to other stories you are working on, as well as builds the confidence you need (or will need) to continue writing the work you want. As a writer you must learn to cultivate as well as build. You do this when you master all tools at your disposal.
A good craftsman doesn’t ignore his tools–or how to reuse what has been overlooked.
Readers are as fickle as they are astute. Don’t miss that! Do NOT ignore this!
Readers like what they like and they rarely deviate from that. There are books that I like in e-format and there are books that need (not want!) to have in physical form. One of the things that is great about having a book in dual format is you will appeal to a greater audience!
APPEAL IS A PART OF MARKETING!
I cannot tell you how valuable it is to consider the appeal of your book so you know just how to market it! As great as it is so have finished a book, it is even better when you can sell a lot of them! Did I mention that e-books are good for the environment? They are!
Besides, the readers are going to be your best judge.