First Drafts

Many people love writing their first drafts. They enjoy the discovery process, when they’re meeting their characters and figuring out what happens next. These writers often dislike revising.

I’m the opposite. I find writing the first draft frustrating, because I’m constantly fighting self doubt and wondering why the scenes in my head never come out right on paper. My characters feel flat, my settings aren’t detailed enough, and my plot meanders off the outline and into Boringtown.

I like revising much better than writing the first draft. When I look back at what I have written I often think, “Hey, this isn’t as bad as I thought.” Then I figure out how to make it even better.

Of course, this means that I want to revise my first draft constantly. I rewrote the opening chapter of this book at least ten times before I could move on. Even now all I can think about is how much better I can make it and all the things I want to change. I’m worried my main character isn’t motivated enough, that I haven’t set up the conflict properly, that my characters seem to be traveling a lot, and so forth.

But maybe I’m just being neurotic. I really want to get this draft done, so I’m trying a “no revision” policy to see how it goes. Instead of revising I write notes at the front of each chapter when I think of something I need to change. But part of me wonders if I’m writing a bunch of stuff that is just going to get cut because it doesn’t work with the revisions I want to do. I’m worried I’ve lost my way somewhere and need to go back and fix things before I can move on.

So – keep plugging along to the end, or take a break to revise the first 6 chapters?