Feeling the Pain of First Drafts

While I’m busy getting That You Are Here ready for public consumption, I thought I’d repost some previous favorites. Here is the beginning of the series about writing first drafts, my least favorite part of the writing process. I wrote this while I was working on Her Loving Husband’s Curse, Book Two of the Loving Husband Trilogy. Enjoy!

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I am languishing in first draft hell. You would think that because I’m working on the second book in a series that the first draft would be easier this time, but it isn’t. Not even close. I spent about a year daydreaming through this second book while I was writing the first novel, but it’s still a chore, putting one word next to the other until I have a complete draft, something to work with, anything to work with, a self-created slab of clay I can mold into the story I see so clearly in my mind.

The truth is, I hate writing first drafts of anything—essays, short stories, novels, e-mails. This post. I have, I’m not embarrassed to admit, rewritten grocery lists because I didn’t like the way I organized them. When I’m teaching a writing class I always know what to say to my students to help them deal with first draft phobias or writer’s block, but do I listen to my own advice? Rarely. At least not until I’m so annoyed I have to remind myself what I already know about writing. Doctor, heal thyself.

As much as I love writing Her Loving Husband’s Curse, I’m still falling victim to old writers’ stand-bys, otherwise known as Excuses. Trust me, it’s not hard to find plenty of Excuses to keep from working. These are the days when I dust and vacuum instead of writing, you know, not just regular maintenance house cleaning but the vacuuming-behind-the-sofa-where-people-will-never-see kind of cleaning. The days when I brush my cats instead of writing that first draft, or worse, talk to my cats instead of writing that first draft. There are grocery stores to shop in, movies to see, lunches to do, friends to visit, books to read, classes to teach. I’m even going to the gym instead of writing, and I hate going to the gym. At this precise moment, I’m writing this post instead of working on that first draft. The list of Excuses can be endless.

In an attempt to remind myself what I already know about first drafts, I decided to write a few posts about advice I’ve given my students to help them over such obstacles. The advice has been helpful for my students, so hopefully it will help others. And, quite frankly, I need the reminding.

2 thoughts on “Feeling the Pain of First Drafts

  1. I think you hit the nail right on the head when it comes to getting over the blahs…writing something from the heart. For me, with every new project I begin, I know that the first draft is just something I have to get through to get to the part of writing I love, which is writing the second draft and seeing the story come together. Good luck to you too! 🙂

  2. With my crime novel I didn’t have the passion I had with my first novel, so i went back to that familiar territory and the writing commenced like wildfire. As serious as literary and historical fiction are, that is where my heart is. Good luck to you getting over the blahs….I spent months there. Good luck!

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